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Leadership is one of those widely discussed topics yet is primarily misconstrued to be something it isn’t. Of course, the journey to becoming a leader is not an easy one, but it does not have to be impossible.

Leadership is spoken about across the board; be it medicine, sports, business, and even politics. But the real question here is how you define a leader in the first place. When taking this matter into account while discussing education, you will most probably think of the administration and your educators. What you really fail to realize is that some of the most prominent leaders reside in classrooms.

To inspire future leaders, the community, as a whole, needs to focus on students.  If you thoroughly believe in this ideology, and its real potential, you will need valuable tips and advice to help your students reach new heights, which are as follows.

Self-Reflection and Self-Efficacy

No matter what goals your students are trying to achieve, they need to be taught the art of self-reflection. Once mastered, your students will exercise introspection, all the while being willing to learn more about their essence, purpose and fundamental nature. They need to understand what power really is, and the responsibilities that come along with it.

One cannot be a leader without power, since it is defined as the ability to act, after all. One great way of acquiring the much-needed power to act is by harboring a strong sense of self-efficacy –  a belief where you are confident about your abilities in regards to accomplishing your goals. This is one thing which students desperately need to be wise leaders.

Self-reflection and self-efficacy can be introduced to students by teaching students about learning strategies, which should not be confused with teaching skills. Being able to unlock doors with a key is a skill, but if said key is lost, you will need strategies. This alone should explain why self-reflection and self-efficacy is a must for students to deal with unforeseen circumstances to become great leaders.

Teach Students about Past and Present Leaders

A considerable amount of research has shown that reading stories – fictitious and non-fictitious- not only alters behavior but it promotes empathy as well. Keeping this in mind, it is a good idea to encourage students to read as much as they can about past and present leaders to explore the different leadership characteristics for students’ to relate to.

For example, stories about Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela teach willingness to take great risks, developing relationships and having a sense of vision, respectively.

Develop Intrinsic Motivation

The Harvard Education Letter and its studies highlight the importance of intrinsic motivation as a critical component amongst children who later became great leaders as adults. There are a lot of ways you can go about developing intrinsic motivation, out of which the best would be to establish meaningful relationships with students to learn more about their hopes, dreams, and self-interests.

Doing so will allow you to be better equipped to teach them lessons that they can connect to. Additionally, effective communication along with praise for efforts and even specific actions is far more useful than praising a student’s intelligence.

Teach Others

According to Edgar Dale, humans essentially learn 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and hear, 70% of what they say or write and 90% of what they teach. Even though research has debunked the statement, leadership experts quote it religiously since they believe it reflects upon their personal experiences.

When it comes to being a good leader, he/she must be able to teach others. Students can easily become good leaders if they are trained to pass on what they have learned, especially since it requires them to go back to their original learning material. But it does not stop there, as students will feel more confident and will end up becoming role models for their fellow peers. If the strategy is employed correctly, students will develop relationships that are crucial for genuine leadership that can convince the masses to take action.

When students come together to teach each other, they begin to respect their peers and learn how not to judge others and their expertise. This, in turn, creates a following, without which any student, or even an adult for that matter, can’t be considered a leader.

Deal with Community Issues

One of the best ways you can go about creating leaders out of students is by creating unique opportunities for them to take action collectively to overcome issues plagued with their community. But this will only work if they are to deal with issues that actually matter to them. Students should be encouraged to learn more about their community, observing how it functions and where it lacks. Once they identify problems being faced by the community, they should be guided on how they can become an active citizen, and not just a citizen who is a bystander at best.

Issues that can be tackled can range from lack of jobs to mismanagement of resources. What most people do not realize is that leadership enrichment programs are not just for large corporations. When pointed in the right direction, students will come up with effective strategies that may even, quite frankly, put adults’ strategies to shame.

No matter the road your students take once they complete school, leadership skills will allow them to reach their real potential, regardless of the fact they have they very little to work with. Apart from making it possible for them to develop meaningful relationships, they will be empowered enough to build self-esteem and confidence in others, all the while transforming into powerful influencers that can’t be ignored.

But what is truly important is for you to realize that developing leadership skills in students is an ongoing process, a process that may not necessarily have an end. The journey may be tough, but the good news is that every leader you create has the potential to change the world for the better.