by Ian Jefferis (UK)

The world is constantly evolving and each generation is faced with new challenges. But what has become obvious is that, for the current generation of adults, the speed of data handling technology has exponentially increased the speed of communication to near instantaneity at all levels and also produced an ‘overwhelm’ of information, much of which is perhaps, of dubious reliability. Many are struggling to cope. We need to ensure that the developing generation, currently in education, is ready to cope with the pressures that such a ‘high speed’ life brings if they are to be in a position to take the mantle of providing for their lives and that of others.

By definition, to have leaders you also need followers and to be a good follower you need to know the basis of leadership and indeed to apply many of the facets of leadership. This is what makes a good team.

To many, the concept of leadership stems from stereotypical thoughts of the military and battle scenarios. But leadership appears in many forms and is prevalent in nearly everything we do in life. At some stage nearly everyone will take on the role of the leader, whether they are aware of it or not, and so it makes sense that leadership skills and capabilities are taught to everyone. After all, a parent is a leader – at least of their children.

What leadership skills should be taught and when? Indeed, how many leadership skills are there? A quick browse on Google will identify a number between four and forty; even then there are undoubtedly more, as some skills are subdivided still further. But it does not really matter how many skills there are, what really matters is to start the leadership learning process early.

To paraphrase Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Some are born leaders, some achieve leadership, and some have leadership thrust upon ‘em [sic]. So, particularly in the latter two categories, developing the concept of leadership throughout their school lives will help students when it comes to adulthood. If developed thus then these skills form a strong base for both workplace and life skills. Much of what is already taught in schools has more than one purpose; content is one element, development of mind processes is arguably ultimately more important. In the United Kingdom, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, Economic education) is already mandated in the curriculum. Such lesson periods are ideal, and designed, for formal life skills training. ‘Leadership Skills’ do not have to be the primary content; they are more the secondary, yet equally important, training.

In its simplest form, three main leadership skills cover a plethora of minor skills; these are: decision making, communication and motivation.  So where does coaching come in?

Source: iCN Issue 34  (Leadership Coaching); pages 68-69