A new longitudinal study on leadership development strongly
suggests that making sure our students have a growth mindset and are encouraged
to take on a challenge and pursue it
until they achieve mastery, is one of the most important things parents and
educators can do. I would argue that it can
also go a long way towards ensuring that students at our college are retained
and successful in their academic goals.
This study was the subject of the latest Harvard Education Letter. The
study looks at how leadership qualities develop, and what determines if a child
will or won’t become a leader later in life. One of the most important roles education plays
is to prepare students to become leaders, so this study is extremely important
to anyone involved in the educational process.
The study finds that, surprisingly, children as young as two
display traits that can predict leadership later in life. Here are some of the
key traits exhibited by children that can predict if they are likely to become
leaders as adults:
Openness: How a child responds to a
novel situation—like a person, place, toy, or food is very important, with
those children open to new situations and things much more likely to become leaders.
Demanding: Children who placed the
most demands on teachers and parents to join or do activities, and commitment
to the new activity.
Whether or not those around the child supported the child’s interests and novel
activities was just as important at predicting leadership as the child’s
Growth Mindset: motivation to take on a
challenge and pursue it until they find mastery or success.
These last two points are vital for parents and educators to
remember. From the article:
Equally important was the parent’s support in fostering
new passions and interests, [the researcher] says, noting that the same issue
arises in classrooms between students and teachers. “It doesn’t mean
you say yes to everything the kid wants,” …But if a child “shows a genuine
interest” in something, that support can be essential to fostering a key
leadership quality—the drive to take on a challenge and pursue it until they
find mastery or success.
That a Growth Mindset was identified in everyday leaders is
not surprising because, “when you are a leader you have to delve into a
world that is uncharted,” and those likely to become leaders enjoyed this process
and did not view it as a chore.
to other studies this new study showed that while a high IQ was slightly
related to leadership development, “ …the
data showed that stronger motivation trumped higher IQ’s,” when it came to
article also includes Carol Dweck’s take on the new study. Dweck along with other researchers argue that
schools that “ …place such heavy
emphasis on extrinsic rewards like test scores and classroom prizes that they
risk stifling development of students’ inner drive.”
to think about as we try to devise ways to increase retention and success for students.
Link to article: