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From the Rector

On Strowan – Volume 13 // Issue 5 // 5 July 2018

More news for Rector

Seeing our young people connecting and collaborating on a daily basis, I do feel reassured that with the right values and ability to collaborate and judge wisely, they will make considered decisions which will positively influence their future communities.
Christine Leighton, Rector

The Leadership Challenge

At the ISNZ Leadership Conference last weekend several speakers explained the changing face of leadership in this age of disruption. In my 20 years as Rector/Principal in two different schools, I have observed many different leadership styles, personalities and traits. I have come to recognise that the first necessity in developing leadership is to understand, and then lead, one’s self. Our young people have all sorts of opportunities to experience and develop leadership. I feel most would agree, one does not need a badge or a title to be a leader.

On Tuesday at lunchtime, I observed a remarkable display of leadership from an unexpected quarter. Three Year 12 Business Studies students had taken the initiative to work with a group of primary students from Kaiapoi Borough School on clay sculpture as part of an Art workshop at StAC. The Year 12 students took command and responsibility, instructed with clarity and precision, and effectively shared their skills with the younger students. Well done to those involved! I know a number of other Year 12 and 13 students are assisting regularly over lunchtimes in the Preparatory School with the Leap Reading Programme, showing similar commitment and admirable qualities.

On the other hand and unsurprisingly, other students sometimes let themselves down by failing to lead themselves and consequently make poor decisions. This does not mean they will not be leaders of the future, they just need to understand more the flow-on effect of their poor decisions … this is what we as educators and caregivers are here for!

Once we have experimented with and mastered the leadership of self, we can then learn to manage and lead teams and possibly organisations. I have discovered it is a lifelong journey!

At the conference there were many inspiring speakers including Christopher Luxon, CEO of Air New Zealand. He too insists that leaders must lead themselves and that great organisations foster a high-performance culture. A line up of student speakers from a number of Auckland independent schools contributed their eloquent thoughts with some insightful observations about student leadership.

“Lead with empathy”
“Deal with real world problems and real world people”
“Learn how to be lead”
“Find a team where you can play your part”
“Leadership owns no qualities”
“Leadership is a collaborative process”

I must also here acknowledge our StAC students who do hold leadership positions in 2018. There are many examples where they have taken responsibility, shown initiative and demonstrated great teamwork. The Term 2 Prefects’ Assembly and Year 11 Semi-formal organised by the Middle School Leaders are but two examples.

As complexity, change and disruption increase at an exponential rate, the expectations on leaders to respond are greater than ever before. Traditional models of leadership are no longer fit for purpose. We need collaborative approaches that will allow us to make sense of the unknown, and take action on issues for which there are no easy answers.

Given all the possibilities emerging with Artificial Intelligence, I propose the need to ask not ‘can we’ but ‘should we’? What values need to inform our judgement regarding the potential impact of technological innovations and ‘solutions’ to societal issues? I have no doubt that this will be a question frequently posed to our student debaters in the coming years.

Seeing our young people connecting and collaborating on a daily basis, I do feel reassured that with the right values and ability to collaborate and judge wisely, they will make considered decisions which will positively influence their future communities.


Christine Leighton

On Strowan - Volume 13 //  Issue 5 // 5 July 2018