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Breaking Down Leadership Fallacies and Building Up Truth
Nathaniel King, Director of Student Services and Leadership

Leadership Paradigm. I have always had an affinity for the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the word paradigm means; “a typical example or pattern of something; a model.” Leadership means; “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” In the same way the meaning of words has changed over time, so has leadership - the paradigm has shifted. The typical leadership model has evolved from individualism, force, and position to different styles, collectivism, shared responsibility, and collaboration. The reason for this shift in leadership paradigm is 1) how we are designed, 2) change in understanding (thinking), 3) environment, and 4) time. Leadership theorists believe that effective leadership must serve the purpose of what is needed in the present to be prepared for life.

Our leadership model (paradigm) emerges from our own life journey and experiences, so to stay true to this understanding of leadership, it is even more essential for us to be dismissive of leadership fallacies, a false idea that many people believe is true especially when it comes to being a leader and leading others.

Here are my observations of how Stanley Clark breaks down leadership fallacies:

Leadership - 2nd grade student working alongside a 5th grade buddy

Fallacy #1: Leaders are the most popular and most athletic. 

Truth #1: Leaders at Stanley Clark are empowered.

Through cross-divisional leadership initiatives such as the buddy system among various grades, students develop a passion for positively influencing others and discerning how others influence them. 

“Passion first and everything will fall into place.” ~ Holly Holm

Leadership - Middle School Miami and Iroquois Club Captains

Fallacy #2: Leaders are loud, charismatic, and outgoing.

Truth #2: Leaders at Stanley Clark demonstrate good character.

Clark provides a plethora of opportunities for character formation; school-wide volunteer/partnering opportunities, advisory, leadership speaker series, student-governed committees, and team captains for the long-standing tradition of the Miami and Iroquois clubs. 

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are. While your reputation is merely what others think you are.” ~ John Wooden

Leadership - 2nd Grade Teacher Helping Students

Fallacy #3: Leaders have titles and status.

Truth #3: Leaders at Stanley Clark are inspired.

Stanford Professor of Education Linda Darling-Hammond said, “Teaching is the profession on which all other professions depend.” Teachers at SCS transform the world of learning for students by inspiring students to explore ideas and pursue passions.

“Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they thought they never could.” ~ Steve Jobs

Leadership - 6th graders packing food boxes for a service learning project

Fallacy #4: There is one right way to lead.

Truth #4: Leaders at Stanley Clark are compassionate.

A staple of SCS leadership development is caring for others through our service learning partnerships, where students exhibit responsibility and respect for others.

"Lead from the front but don't leave your base behind. Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Leadership - Preschool teacher working alongside students

Fallacy #5: Leaders are born.

Truth #5: Leaders at Stanley Clark are emergent.

At SCS, the emergent process begins in early childhood. Teachers nurture students in a close-knit environment where the relationship between the student, teacher, parent, and environment is valued as part of a child's development into an independent thinker. 

“Leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.” ~ Steve Covey

And for the future? When you break it all down, anyone can be a leader. It starts with you; self-awareness, understanding, and continually developing the skills needed to make a positive impact.

About the Author

Nathaniel King

Nathaniel King

Director of Student Services and Leadership

  • character
  • leadership

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