Last week I came across an article entitled “How Millennials are saving the world through business”. It reported on how 75% of Millennials felt that “businesses are too fixated on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to improve society” and documented the incredible stories of Australian organisations like the ‘Thankyou Group’ - organisations that combine excellent business sense with integrity and the desire to lead in making a difference. As such, it explored a new model of business leadership (or at least, a model which has lain dormant for some time).
Many, if not most, schools speak of the importance of teaching leadership skills and of training up tomorrow’s leaders; however, what they mean by leadership can vary considerably. For us, a leader is “someone who, through the force of their own character and values, influences other people and groups around him or her towards change for good”. In other words, for us, leadership is about character, about making a difference and about acting in the real world.
There are a myriad of models of leadership out there, some good, some appearing good, and some not so good. (I’m currently reading Hilary Mantel’s “A Place of Greater Safety”- her fictionalisation of the French Revolution - and as it makes abundantly clear, some are very far from good). For us, the foundational model is Christ’s “Good Samaritan Model”. As I’ve said before, what characterises this model is that the Good Samaritan - like Jesus - was not only compassionate, but also practical and skilled; and he was not only good, but he was also both brave and strategic.
Furthermore, what made Christ’s “Good Samaritan Model” so different in the ancient world as that it began not with statements like: “listen to me”, “be commanded by me” or “agree with me” but rather, it began with “follow me” - a statement that puts relationship and community at the centre of leadership. In an age in which leader-heroes were people who led from the commanding, power-filled, demi-God heights of the orator’s podium or the General’s horse - this was revolutionary. (And our age still tends to idolize the powerful and the commanding - though now we tend to use the word ‘celebrity’, rather than demi-God, and world domination has been replaced by financial domination).
In such a world, bottom up leadership like Jesus’ can look weak. It may have been part of the reason why Peter denied Jesus (after all, what kind of leader can’t even articulate a proper defence when he’s on trial for his life?). However, as the recent film ‘Selma’ demonstrated, when followers (such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King) apply Jesus’ methods, they may look weak, but they can be incredibly, world-changing-ly, effective.
Over the term, the staff here - all of whom are leaders of your childrens’ education - have been actively reflecting on what it is to lead like the Good Samaritan. It is my hope that out of that will come even better tutelage for your children in their own Good Samaritan leadership.
Meanwhile, I have been wondering about whether we are doing as much as we can to encourage our students to take the lead, both compassionately and pragmatically. Are we encouraging the combination of skillful business sense and deep-seated compassion demonstrated by organisations like ‘Thankyou’? School’s views of leadership can often seem slightly divorced from “the real world” and I was wondering how we could bridge that divide - and then I remembered the Bob Geldof Business Breakfast, which was itself an intentional effort to bring business people together so that they could learn from one-another in a real world context.
This led me to wondering, if we could, as a community, do something similar for our students? For our students to hear from, and be challenged by people who are already leading innovation and compassion in the business world could be both motivating and inspiring.
If we have parents or alumni who might like to take part in one of our Student Business Seminars, please contact our Community Relations Officer, Mrs Lisa Tregoning by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org