“Leadership is not restricted to position and age; it is self-made and influential. Everyone has this self-leadership quality.”
– Israelmore Ayivor
16-year-old Precious struggled in her role as a Social Prefect of Prudence Educational Centre because of her inability to effectively supervise the students, she was supposed to lead. Prefects are student leaders occupying various positions to oversee the management of student affairs, working alongside the teachers while keeping up with their studies. ‘Prefectship’ comes with a lot of responsibilities and juggling these responsibilities with academics can be a bit overwhelming for these young fledging student-leaders like Precious who have never handled a leadership position more often than not. Most Prefects, like Precious, find it difficult to cope with their roles for different reasons, but the most prominent one is the defiance of their fellow students. Some prefects are disrespected or even threatened while trying to do their duties. Thus, getting their fellow students to obey instructions is never easy for these perfects.
In Keeping It Real (KIR) Foundation, we understand the importance of student leadership in secondary schools and that is why from 2014 to 2019 through our Inclusive Young Leadership Academy (YLA); we held a one-day workshop for newly elected school Prefects like Precious and trained over 675 student leaders and 30 teachers in over 26 secondary schools. In 2016, we published the ‘Young Leader’s Guide, a leadership manual for young leaders like Precious. However, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we had to put a hold on the Inclusive Young Leadership Academy, the one-day workshop focused on building the leadership capacity of young leaders and grooming them to become servant leaders who use their influence positively to transform their school community and beyond.
This year, we decided to pivot and instead of having our usual Inclusive Young Leadership Academy, because the schools are still reluctant to permit their students to attend programs outside the school, we introduced; ‘Meet the Leader Session (MLS)’. The aim of MLS is to connect the Prefects with leadership experts who will visit their schools and discuss with them the essence of leadership and answer their questions.
We had our first MLS with the Prefects of Prudence Educational Centre on the 21st of June, 2022. We were very fortunate to have the following Leadership Coaches; Amarachi Stanley-Duru and Kate Onakomaiya of the John C Maxwell Team handle the session.
The Coaches Kate and Amarachi discussed with the 16 Prefects on ‘What is Leadership?’ and ‘Servant Leadership’, respectively.
Coach Amarachi informed the young leaders that;
“You don’t need to be in a position to be a leader. Your influence makes you one and to lead with Influence, you need to lead by example. You need to lead yourself before you lead anybody.”
While Coach Kate mentored them on what it means to be servant leaders.
She said: “A call to leadership is a call to serve. The leader serves the people he is called to lead. You must be engaged in the lives of your followers.”
Also, she explained the three questions every follower asks before following a leader, which are:
Do you care for me?
Can you help me?
Can I trust you?
Precious asked the coaches how she could handle rebellious followers, and Coach Kate told her; “Whenever a group gathers, a leader must emerge. If you can’t guide the group, influence the leader who can”.
The session was very interactive, and the young leaders asked very insightful questions and showed their eagerness to learn.
At the end of the training, the students had a better understanding of what being a leader; especially a servant leader means. The following are some of the definitions of leadership in their own words.
“A leader is someone who takes charge and has an influence on his surroundings and people around him.” – Jeremiah Owor 15-year-old Senior Prefect.
“A leader influences people by example” – Wisdom Iweriso, 15-year-old Labour Prefect.
“You don’t need to have a position to be a leader” – Blessing Tamunotonye, 16-year-old Property Prefect.
Our young leader: Precious was quite appreciative to be a part of the ‘Meet The Leader Session.’ She realized from the training what was missing in her leadership style and what she needs to do to improve and become a better leader. In her feedback, she said;
Today’s Program was one of a kind. The quote from John C. Maxwell says;
“A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”; revealed that I wasn’t a leader who did that. Coach Kate made me understand my role as a Social Prefect and how I can influence a group, directly or indirectly. The Meet the Leader session answered all the questions about my troubles and helped me better understand my role as a leader. Thank you Keeping It Real (KIR) Foundation for coming to my school.”
We believe that teaching the leaders of today like Precious and her peers, leadership skills will change the negative leadership narrative in Nigeria and lead to a more stable and developed nation tomorrow. Kindly support us to train in school young leaders like Precious and her peers by becoming a Mentor and/or helping to publish more copies of ‘The Young Leader’s Guide’.
We are extremely grateful to our phenomenal coaches; Kate and Amarachi for positively influencing our young leaders and teaching them how to become servant leaders!