Influence = Leading

Supporting and empowering students to influence their world with integrity.

It has become commonly acceptable in leadership literature to define Leadership as influence on others to enact change. The word influence in our vision statement could, therefore, be readily interchanged with the word Lead as this is what we do when we influence others.

There is though, I believe, a difference in the circumstances in which we consider a person is leading or influencing. Many would only apply the word lead when they think about formal situations: leading a company or organisation, leading a sporting team, church or small group. We often only consider a person is a leader when they have a recognised position or title. Conversely, we might say they are influencing when it occurs outside a formal role or within everyday interactions.

Depending on the context, how we define leadership may also alter. When we consider leadership of a small group, we often think of it involves making sure rosters are done, and people in the group know what is going on. In larger organisations, we think of leaders setting the big picture, determining the direction and the culture of the organisation. However, a leader in any sphere big or small is a person whose opinion, personal characteristics, behaviour and values are respected (sometimes feared) and cause others to listen and respond. You are leading when you influence others to act differently, to think differently, in essence-when you effect change. And this not only occurs in formal settings but in everyday interactions.

Leadership does not occur because of position or title – leadership is often seen in people who do not have either. They are the person in your workplace, in your church, sporting organisation, neighbourhood or friendship group who influences you by their personal attributes and behaviour. We all have people in our lives that lead us by the way they live. We listen to and take on board their advice, and we willingly allow them to influence the way we live our lives. We don’t call them a leader; they don’t wear a badge that says Life Influencer – they are just leading out of who they are. They are influencing their world with integrity.

It is our vision to support and empower students to be leaders – to be influencers. Some, maybe many, of our students will have a formal role as a leader beyond school. They may lead major organisations, churches or even the state or country. However, they won’t all be people who either can or want to lead with a position or title, but, they can all be people who lead in everyday interactions. They can all be people who influence their world with integrity.

As a place of education, it is our role to prepare the many, not just the few. I’ve often spoken about the way our approach to wellbeing and our focus on character strengths and habits of mind are a critical part of a whole school approach in the process of strengthening and empowering our students. It’s important that all students are given the opportunity to develop the personal qualities and skills they will need to be influencers, and in doing so contribute to making every sphere of life more brilliant.

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