"Harris, the Headmaster wants to see you as soon as possible in his study." was the summons. "Oh dear, I am in trouble." was my initial thought as I left my 6th form tutor group. I already regretted having confronted a partisan sports teacher from a visiting school the day before quite so aggressively. Now it appeared the matter was going to be taken further.
Minutes later I was reeling from shock as the headmaster informed me that I had been chosen to be head boy. The experience of finding myself in that role was challenging and enriching. It stood me in good stead for leadership throughout my life. I once spent a fortnight in Windsor Castle on a leadership course which was different.
Research shows that young people who have leadership roles in school go on to become leaders in their adult life. A few years ago, I was asked to run a training day for newly-appointed school prefects from schools all over the country. My preparation revealed that there were few resources written specifically for young leaders. Apart from those who go into the armed forces, young people with leadership potential tend not to receive training until they are in their mid to late twenties. My book aims to address this hiatus. It introduces young people to leadership theory (formation, styles, relationship to management), poses questions to help people explore their motives and strengths, and points them towards other resources. I have tried to be concise. The Appendix includes practical toolkits about communication, conflict resolution and chairing meetings.
When and Where?
I usually have two or three projects on the go at any one time. One day may feel like a day for poetry, the next for non-fiction and the next for a radio script! About once a year I go away for a month to somewhere with fewer distractions and concentrate on one piece of work. I wrote Young Person's Quick Guide to Leadership last September in France in the foothills of the Pyrenees, courtesy of friends who loaned me their house. I know, it's a tough life but someone's got to do it! Having submitted the completed manuscript - one of my shorter ones as it happens - there was a discussion about a version for junior and primary schools. So, I sat down with a friend, Heather Torrens, who specializes in training pupil-leaders in primary schools to see what would emerge. We linked up with a brilliant young illustrator, Jethro Wilson who very quickly grasped our vision. The Junior edition will appear shortly. There will be a downloadable Teacher's Guide, outlining leadership training sessions.
I asked some young people including some of our grandchildren to test drive these resources. I was glad to take on their advice. I hope others find it useful.
Young person's quick guide to leadership is available now
Only £5.99 Click here to view
Written by Paul Canon Harris