The Makings of a Leader
Hopkins students are constantly challenged to lead.
Hopkins students are constantly challenged to lead. This time of year, especially, sophomores and juniors have risen to the top half of the school and are applying for leadership positions that will distinguish them among their classes: captains of sports teams, heads of clubs, student council members, senior mentors, Disciplinary Committee members, Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of The Razor, of course, and many more activities.
The upcoming transfers of leadership positions at school, as well as the recent transition of leadership of our country, force students to ask themselves: What does it mean to be a leader?
One of the most relevant and difficult aspects of leadership for Hopkins students rising to new positions is fnding a balance between friendship and authority. The transition into leadership sometimes involves an awkward strain on relationships with peers. Sometimes, friends may not be fulflling what is expected or needed from them, and students may need to reprimand their classmates and friends. Leaders confront this uncomfortable situation, and rise to the plate to find a respectful, productive way to prompt change in their peers. This may be hard, and friendships may suffer as a result of these situations. When students assume leadership positions, however, they are making a promise that they will always put the group’s needs before their own, even if it strains existing friendships.
Leaders must know how to treat different peers in a variety of situations. When they see someone who is not fulflling responsibilities, they must know how to express concern and make sure that responsibilities are met. Sometimes, this means a stern warning, but other times, a gentler approach can yield more success. Leaders must decide on a plan of action that considers all perspectives. Whichever approach they take, they must make people feel competent and needed, and not hurt their feelings, while making it clear that more is expected of them.
Being able to fnd this balance between kindness and strictness takes a lot of work. Leaders must observe their peers constantly, taking note of how they react to certain methods of teaching and being sensitive to how their feelings are affected. Through these observations, leaders will also start to notice the strengths and weaknesses of their peers, as well as which combinations of people work well together. This is important for another skill required in leadership: the delegation of tasks to different groups of peers and the confdence that those jobs will be completed correctly. It can be unnerving for leaders to give up control and rely so heavily on their peers, but ultimately, it is incredibly rewarding for leaders to see a fnished product crafted through the collaboration of their teammates, rather than one individual.
Being a leader is not always easy. It is uncomfortable, awkward, and scary at times. It forces leaders to confront inconvenient situations and be brutally aware of everyone’s status. It is hard work to constantly think about the team and observe its behavior and results while also considering how to improve results and implement new ideas. Leaders are among the most important members of society, and despite the hard work, being a leader is incredibly rewarding.
Hopkins teaches its students how to be leaders, ingraining into their education the values and morals of leadership. Students are taught how to improve the behavior of their classmates by leading through example, having a voice and a presence among their peers, learning how to get along with classmates with whom they might butt heads, being sensitive to their classmates’ feelings, and countless other invaluable skills that contribute to leadership.
Hopkins also expects students to apply these skills at school constantly. Students can take the initiative to carry a Harkness discussion, support a group project, take control in the case of a fire drill or lockdown, motivate a sports team’s spirit in a game, or be kind to a classmate in need. These acts of leadership, and so many more, flll The Hill every day.
Hopkins does not just breed up hopeful youths. It builds up leaders who will push through frontiers for the rest of their lives, whether they are leading a college, a neighborhood, or even the whole country.