There are many different strategies for leadership development. Although each strategy has different methods, they all have a common goal- to create more effective leaders. So why should you use Leaders UNITE? What is so special about this program that should make you invest the time and effort in our program? In this article, we will explain Leaders UNITE methods and the reason for our madness.
Leaders UNITE was founded to break two stereotypes: leadership is boring and only certain types of people can become leaders. To break the stereotype that leadership is boring, Leaders UNITE consists of multiple hands-on activities in which students can work in groups and foster their own creativity in fun, engaging ways. To break the stereotype that only certain types of people can become leaders, we incorporate assigned leaders, reflection time, and individualized meetings/activities. To give you a better idea of how these concepts work, let us break down some of these examples.
What they are:
A full list of Leaders UNITE activities can be found on the “Activities” page, but the majority of the activities relate to public speaking, presenting in front of a group, creating curriculums in leadership, etc. Some of the activities can be done in different ways, for example, assigned leaders can be used in the process or restrictions can be placed on the students in order to foster creative development. Many of the activities are done in small groups, and they all require some sort of presentation at the end of the session.
Why they work:
First, utilizing hands-on activities allows students to put themselves in a group environment and in scenarios that mimic real life. Then, when students get put in real-life situations that involve leadership, they will already be in the habit of using their leadership abilities from this hands-on activities. Also, hands-on activities allow teachers and facilitators to directly see the students’ improvement in their leadership abilities without relying on papers or hear-says. Also, hands-on activities are a prime opportunity for students to interact with one another and also to signal out people’s individual leadership tendencies when they interact in a group environment.
What they are:
These are just regular, group discussion questions. Students speak about issues related to leadership development, leadership in a school environment, and leadership on a larger scale. Many of the discussions start off broad and move into more focused, in depth topics related to leadership, personal biases, and beliefs. Everyone is encouraged to participate. The discussions at the beginning of the year are more focused around beliefs and leadership as a whole. Then, they move into leadership hierarchies, leadership in a group environment, and different roles of individuals within the group. However, the majority of the discussions centralize around leadership in the classroom, how certain aspects can hinder/help individuals, and how to improve this aspect.
Why they work:
The discussions allow people to discover their own beliefs and to stand by them. This is an integral part of leadership development which allows people to allow discover their tendencies as leaders. Also, students are more likely to speak out when there are general questions about beliefs or other topics that they have general knowledge and opinions about. Going from individual leadership to group leadership to classroom leadership allows students to develop a strong framework about their own leadership tendencies and the “ideal” methods of leadership before applying this knowledge to the classroom. Also, discussions help others, including teachers, develop an understanding of the way individuals think and what they believe with regards to leadership.
Show and Learn:
What it is:
Show and Learn allows students to demonstrate their creative abilities. This year-long activity allows students to present one of their talents to the group and then teach the group a short routine related to their talent. Examples include singing for the group and then teaching the class some basics about singing, dancing and then teaching the students a basic dance, reading poetry and then walking students through writing a poem, etc. It does not matter what your talent is; we want a variety! Be creative and enjoy doing and teaching something you are passionate about.
Why it works:
This activity works well for two reasons: building confidence and working on communication skills. This activity helps students build confidence because they get to do something that they do confidence in. For example, some people are very timid in small group discussions, but they feel natural and confident while singing on stage. Giving those students the opportunity to sing and do something they feel comfortable doing, then they will begin to feel more comfortable with their group in general.
This activity also gives students the opportunity to work on their communication skills. Although it may be easy for a professional dancer to perform in front of a group, teaching others how to dance is completely different and requires a new way of thinking about dance. Also, it can be very difficult to explain and communicate information and instructions to other people. Giving students the opportunity to do so allows them to practice speaking to others and conveying information in different ways so they are able to understand the information. Sometimes, people are able to explain information in a way that makes sense to them, but it does not make sense to other people. In order to grow as a leader, speaker, and group member, you need to be able to find different, effective ways of communicating information within a group so that everyone is able to understand the information.
What they are:
There are many community activities, such as Compliment Cards, YAS (You are Special), and putting together programs at a local retirement home. While these are just few of the activities that students can partake in (a full list of preliminary suggestions can be found under the “Community Activities” page), all of them have common goals: to help others and to work together as a group. These activities can be done within the school community or also in the larger community. The number of people for each activity can also vary, and other people within the community are welcome to join.
Why they work:
Activities such as Compliment Cards and YAS are important because they foster encouragement within the group. Many students who go through this program may not be 100% confident about some aspects of their leadership, and it is always important for people to know that their talents are appreciated in the group. It is just as important for students to hear these positive words of encouragement from their fellow peers. While it is nice to let others know that their hard work is appreciated, it is also important to give others compliments in other aspects of their lives.
Community activities such as retirement home performances, food drives, etc. help students work on their planning skills. Giving the students complete freedom to organize when, where, and what activity will take place within the community is a prime opportunity for students to take charge and work towards a common goal. It also gives students a chance to work with one another outside of a school/Leaders UNITE environment. These also give students a perception of what occurs in their larger community.
What it is:
All of the information regarding the club is on the website. Everything is easy to access, and many branches of the club just get everything off of the website regarding discussions, activities, and other opportunities. Some useful pages involved are Activities, Discussions, Community Activities, etc.
Students are also encouraged to make a WordPress account so that they can comment on discussion posts and then discuss with students from other schools. Instructions to make an account are listed under FAQs and under the “How to make a WordPress account” on the Resources page.
Why it works:
The website allows students to have flexible schedules regarding the club. Different schools can work around their own schedules with regards to choosing activities and discussions that they feel are the most relevant to their students’ leadership development. This allows teachers to merge Leaders UNITE into some of their other leadership-related programs at school or within the community.
Making a WordPress account and communicating with other schools gives students exposure to various school systems and various approaches to leadership. Different schools have different approaches to leadership development, and it is always beneficial to gain knowledge about other schools’ programs. Also, discussing with other students, brings about new perspectives and opinions. It gives students a big-picture idea and exposes them to experiences they have not previously discovered.
There are only 6 days until the first Leaders UNITE conference! While there is still work to be done (and food to be ordered), everything is in place for a successful day. For those of you that are attending the conference, dress comfortably, since you will be sitting down within your groups for the majority of the day. If you would like to bring a pen and paper, feel free to do so. We will provide lunch and snacks, but feel free to bring whatever you need to make your day more enjoyable. On the day of the conference, there will be Cary Academy students to help guide you to the lecture hall, where the majority of the conference activities will take place.
We are extremely excited for this event, and although many schools could not make it to the rescheduled date, there are many new schools that joined the conference. We are excited to meet everyone and discuss leadership on a larger scale. Do not forget to let us know a head count for participants from each school. We need to know the total number of students and administrators attending by Monday so that we can order lunch accordingly. We hope you are as excited as we are and that you will help to make the conference a huge success!
The first Leaders UNITE conference has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 2nd 2015 from 10:00am-3:00pm. The schedule is attached in the flyer. We welcome schools and students from any group, so contact us if you are interested in attending. We anticipate a lot of students, and we are excited for the event. There will be three discussions, followed by three corresponding activities. We will also discuss Leaders UNITE and wrap up with how to bring back these concepts to our own schools. Hope to see you all there!