Building ‘Leaders’ … even the quiet kind!

This year my class completed a VIA Character survey to identify their top strengths and those strengths that they do not use as frequently. One trend that I noticed within my class was that many of my quieter, more reserved students tended to have leadership as a strength that they did not use as frequently. This caused me to do some reflection and come up with some questions.

(1) What is the definition of leadership that the VIA survey uses?
(2) Did my students interpret the questions on the survey properly?
(3) Are we biased toward more charismatic and extrovert leaders, in comparison to the quieter more introvert type?
(4) Do my students know how to be leaders, other than the take charge and captain the ship? How can I teach them skills to be leaders in their own way?
(5) What is my students understanding of being a leader?

Some of these questions I can answer now and some I will need to go and break down with my students.

Question (1) What is the definition of leadership that the VIA survey uses? 

VIA has a detailed page outlining the characteristics of the strength, leadership. In working with Grade 6 students I think the most valuable aspect of the page is

“If Leadership is your top strength, you excel at encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.” (VIACharacter.org, 2017

In breaking down that definition, I think that there are many ways that quieter students can take on a variety of group roles to help demonstrate leadership qualities as described here such as making everyone feel included, organizing, and maintaining accountability.

Question (2) Did my students interpret the questions on the survey properly? 

I am going to take some time to go through the VIA Survey and identify some questions that I think may be linked with the ‘Leadership’ strength and use these as discussion points with my class during advisory time.

Question (3) Are we biased toward more charismatic and extrovert leaders, in comparison to the quieter more introvert type? 

The work of Susan Cain and her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cannot Stop Talking,  might provide some insight into this question. Although I have not read her book, I have seen her TED Talk around the same concept.

I am going to explore Quiet Revolution, to continue to learn more about the strengths of introverts.

In considering some of the strengths of my quieter students, I know that they are good listeners, are very observant and can spot strengths in others, often have strengths in judgement or prudence and remain calm in many situations. All of these qualities can be exercised to show leadership.
(4) Do my students know how to be leaders, other than the take charge and captain the ship? How can I teach them skills to be leaders in their own way? 

Again, this is another question that I can break down with my students in advisory time. In thinking about what types of skills I can focus on, I see real strength in teaching the kids to be ‘strengths spotters’ so that they can help everyone in the group feel valued and help identify ways to organize groups to be effective.
(5) What is my students understanding of being a leader? 

Again, this is another question that I can break down with my students in advisory time.

I am looking forward to seeing how with some intention, I can work on building leaders … even the quiet kind!

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