One of the four pillars that form the foundation of the 4 the TEAM philosophy, is moving from a ‘Me’ to a ‘We’ philosophy. The pillar requires students to develop an appreciation that being a senior leader within your school community is more than a resume builder. It is a responsibility to make the whole school community a better place and help other students around you grow.
Over the last month of presenting at schools, I have been encouraged by the discussions of the senior student leaders about their desire to leave a long lasting legacy at the end of their leadership term. These students have identified their wish to build a culture that can positively influence all participants both now and in the future. The leaders are showing an understanding that their role as a leader is bigger than the individual. It has been such a pleasant experience watching these students accept their roles as servants to the whole school community.
It is this desire in students to make a difference that led me to start this business. Some of the senior leaders of our schools will turn 18 during their leadership term. They will be regarded as fully functioning decision making adults in society, the right to vote, to buy alcohol, to go to prison. It is the belief of 4 the TEAM that we then need to raise our expectations of our student leaders and give them greater responsibility. Schools must provide opportunities for these senior students to earn and learn leadership skills. We should raise the importance of this role in schools and not downgrade it.
Why? Because when I work with these students they want more responsibility. They want to make a difference. They want to make their school a better place. They want to change the culture.
The media today leads us to believe that adolescents only care about ‘themselves’. After working in secondary schools for the past 14 years there is no doubt that this mentality exists. However, this is normal personal development not just seen in adolescents. We all need to focus on our own needs at one stage or another in our lives. To paint all adolescents with the same brush and label them self-centred is a mistake and one that needs to be addressed by schools. By giving the senior student leaders opportunities to lead by servicing the whole school community, hopefully this misconception can be challenged. Society refers to them as adults and we must approach them as adults and trust them by sharing some leadership responsibilities in the community.
Leadership has to be more than just a ‘badge’ and doing jobs. There are some very mature student leaders who are already acting out the ‘We’ mentality. Schools must provide opportunities for their senior leaders to flourish and grow, through leading. Students who are challenged at the ‘We’ philosophy will actually learn more about themselves and the ‘Me’, as these experiences will allow them to recognise who they really are and what they really stand for.