Student Leaders Wanted

Student Leaders Wanted

In recent years, more than one article has been written bemoaning the lack of engagement by our young in service and leadership. I don't think this is entirely fair and neither do I think it is totally accurate.

Nonetheless, it has caused me to write the enclosed reflection to encourage potential student leaders to step up.


Hey guys, we need you to lead. Why? Because we're not doing that crash-hot a job of leading ourselves, and we need you to show us a better way. Also, you have skills, dreams and opportunities that we can only dream of. So - give it a go.

Some may be tempted not to consider leadership because leadership enjoys a rather grubby reputation. For example, our elected leaders in Parliament are often unpopular with sentiments such as "make your politicians work –don’t re-elect them" being common.

There will always be some who don't want to lead. There are good reasons for this. They are content to serve and work behind the scenes. They are happy for others to have the limelight. They like to operate under the radar. But, there are also bad reasons. They don't want responsibility. They can't handle accountability. They don't want to engage in any activity that might risk discomfort.

If your reasons for not leading fall into this second category, you might want to rethink. You don't want to risk sleeping through your lives, of limiting yourself to the drowsy role of spectator. Some like to escape the challenges of leadership in order to live a pillowed existence in which they are stupid with slumber and the engagement in trivial things. Don't join them and waste your life!

You mustn't worry if you're not a super hero or in the 1st Xl. Not all leadership is about heroics. Most leadership is covert and unassuming. It is to be found in the gentle word of encouragement, the helping of another, the steering of a conversation, a suggestion, or some small service. These are tasks that we can all fulfil, and thus any student should give serious consideration to leadership in some form or other.

A leader is not always someone with an impressive badge, significant responsibilities and an invitation to dine with the Gods. A leader need not even be someone with rank, power or position. Quite simply, a leader is someone who someone else is following. This means that any of us can be a leader. If our words direct and our actions inspire, we are leading. If we cause another to follow our example, or to follow our direction we are leading. 

As for leadership having a bad reputation, I hold the view that although endangered, leadership is not yet extinct. Effective leadership can still be found in our society. It’s just that those who are leading are not necessarily found in designated leadership positions, and those found in designated positions are not necessarily leading! 

I have generally found that the most effective leaders are those who guide, steer and direct others without them necessarily being aware of it.

Yes, leadership can be hard. There is within leadership the good, the bad and the ugly. Many of our leaders are stoned with ridicule, bruised by the challenge and accusation of those who, out of envy, spite or a basic love of mischief like to make a leader’s life difficult. If you can topple a leader you demonstrate power, and there are many who want to demonstrate that power. This can make leadership difficult because there are many who like to see leaders fall. 

One of the great sins of our present age is to be different, to be a leader. If you are not prepared to run with the pack, you can find yourself rounded upon with some savagery and driven away with resentful animosity. Quite simply, if you become a leader, you can become a target. Only the brave need apply. 

However, leadership is not without its rewards. There is the privilege of being given the gift of control, of influencing the actions and thoughts of others. These days, society does not want mere managers, it has no need for the power hungry. Society wants shepherds, those who feed, care and direct.

So, look around you and think how it is you can be an influence for good. It need not be deeds done in the spotlight. If can be sending an encouraging text, helping someone with their homework or standing up for someone being bullied.

Yesterday, we were the leaders. Now it is your turn. Tomorrow is in your hands. 

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