Leading the new generation

Leading the new generation

Representative image. DH Photo

A nation can only be as good as its schools. No nation can rise above the level of its teachers. It is also axiomatic that leadership is the axis around which the wheel of the school revolves.

School Heads have to come out of their antiquated leadership styles. The village schoolmaster of Oliver Goldsmith is the archetypal headmaster of yore. It’s time we consigned such leadership practices to the dustbin of history. We need to awaken ourselves and be equipped with a new kind of leadership for the new generation of children who are given the sobriquets ‘generation Z’ (born 1995- 2009) and ‘generation alpha’ (born 2010 - 2024).

The new generations are cognitively and emotionally different. They started interacting with technology even before they learned to walk. While we are the reluctant migrants to the digital era, new-gen children took to the digital world like fish to water. They are digital natives for sure but only time will tell if they are superior to their forebears, in terms of other measurable parameters.

School leadership too has to take a quantum leap to match the demands of the new century. It has to be qualitatively different. We need visionary leadership with a compelling purpose and vision that resonates throughout the school. It is all about the leader’s capacity to influence others positively and effectively.

Leading from the front

Leaders should never imagine that they are only supposed to oversee others’ work. Nothing can be more fallacious. A leader should know every part of the school and every job there like the back of their hand. Else they will have no credibility, rendering themselves ineffective and redundant.

A leader should also possess a repertoire of skills like knowledge, communication etc. Empowering more people would mean a greater sense of belonging and ownership. A higher level of engagement of teachers will result in their going beyond and above the call of duty.

The proof of leadership is also in building harmonious relationships. We cannot manage people without influencing them. We must develop deep, meaningful relationships, which will result in greater loyalty, comradeship and finally institutional progress and success.

Qualities like self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and fairness are all integral to being a good leader.

Ethics and integrity

This is the litmus test of leadership. Leaders should be scrupulously honest. While honesty is a personal value, integrity is how one translates the value of honesty. Ethics is its extension to the institutional context. A good leader practices financial probity and prudence. Remaining incorruptible is the noblest legacy of a good leader.

Abraham Lincoln said, “nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Genuineness is central to the credibility of leaders. A leader should exemplify congruity in words and actions. Thus the most valued asset of a leader is honesty in thought and action.

(The writer is the director of a school in Udupi district)

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