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Grade 11 Leadership Conference

| April 6, 2011 | 1 Comment

By Keith Fairweather

One hundred and eighty young leaders enjoyed three days together at St Alban’s College during the Michaelmas holidays.

This was our first Grade 11 Leadership Conference, generously supported and assisted by Varsity College. We were blessed to have superb speakers who challenged and stimulated these Grade 11 girls and boys from Lebone II – College of the Royal Bafokeng, Tersia King Learning Academy, St Stithians Girls’ College, St Stithians Boys’ College, St John’s College, King David, St Andrew’s School, Clifton College, Cornwall Hill College, St Benedict’s College, Beaulieu College, St Dunstan’s College, Woodlands International College, St Mary’s DSG (Pretoria), Kingsmead College, Aurora Private School, Maseala Progressive School, Centurion Christian School, Theodor Herzl High School, Kingswood College and St Alban’s College. All these young leaders presented very good verbal and PowerPoint group presentations on a specific leadership topic on the second evening.

Busisiwe Khanyile, a young leader from St Mary’s DSG, e-mailed me after the conference:

The Grade 11 Leadership Conference was initially a very nerve-wrecking experience for me because no-one in my circle of friends was attending, but it made me realise that I’m very independent and before the Conference even began, I was already learning how to network. Having the opportunity to listen to wonderful speakers such as Keith Coats, Peter van Kets, Alan Thomson, Callie Roos and Buhle Dlamini, just to name a few, was truly awesome. The Conference did not only answer some of the questions I had but it made me ask even more questions that only I, as a leader, can answer during my journey of life. ‘What makes me a role model?’ was a question I asked myself during Rory Dyer’s talk because he emphasised making people do something that you, as a leader, are prepared to do, too, and this means leading by example.

This Leadership Conference has definitely made a huge impact on my life because it made me realise the importance of asking useful questions. There is no proper definition of a leader but there are many things that leaders have to learn and that is that you never stop learning. If granted an opportunity, I would love to attend this Leadership Conference again because it has not only made me believe that I can be a great leader but has also made me believe that I can be an awesome role model.

Lauren Kahn (from the leadership team of Theodor Herzl School) wrote:

I learnt much more than I’d expected: about leadership, about character, about strength and about human nature. From the most diverse, unexpected group of people, I learnt things I definitely would not have otherwise learnt – about Afro-centric optimism, about adaptability, about people – not only from the workshops, but from the scores of people my age I met in the auditorium, ‘on the N1’ path, outside during tea breaks, at dinner, on my way to the bathroom, in the computer room – at the most unexpected times, I learnt things that have changed my perception about leadership… about life.

I left this Leadership Camp with more questions than when I’d arrived. These were questions that had arisen from the answering of others. But I did not feel uneasy – instead, I felt excited. Excited to ask my questions, to consider them, to claim time to think about them. Excited to find answers, to understand leadership better, to understand myself. No longer were the corny, complex questions suppressed for a more opportune time; no longer were they the adversary of clear thinking. They became the allies of leadership, of character development.

I left Leadership Camp heavier than I had arrived, but also much, much lighter. One question in particular is still bothering me, however: what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? It is not bothering me because I do not have an answer – it is bothering me because, after three days of such valuable lessons, I have too many.

Phemelo Segoe, Nolo Mmeti and Oreeditse Sedumedi from Lebone II – College of the Royal Bafokeng e-mailed me, highlighting a few of the characteristics that they think are vital to being a great leader:

  • Being a leader is a very complex and challenging task that requires more than one method of leading. A leader should be able to lead from the front, for example Shaka Zulu, who led by example and did everything he asked his men to do with them. But a leader should also act as a shepherd and lead from the middle or the back.
  • Leaders motivate, empower, empathise, listen, strategise and acknowledge that we live in an ever-changing world that requires one to adjust and change one’s methods of leading.
  • A leader is open-minded, persistent, tenacious and prone to hard work.

Kirsten Putziger, Head Girl-elect of Theodor Herzl High School, wrote:

Thank you so much for the amazing opportunity of being able to attend the Leadership Conference. The amount I learnt over these three days was unbelievable. I am feeling very inspired by the whole experience, and I feel that I am ready to make a difference to the people around me. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet so many people. We have made so many friends.

I would like to conclude with an extract that Emily Bristow (St Mary’s DSG) e-mailed to me:

“The combination of brilliant lectures – thought-provoking, very unusual and quite emotional – made for an amazing Leadership Camp. Spending a day and two nights with the young leaders of ‘Today’ was an amazing experience. The contacts I made and the overall enthusiasm for South Africa was astonishing and will continue to inspire me. The riches of our land lie not in its grounds but in the hearts and minds of the young leaders, us… forever learning, forever changing… My wish is that these 180 young people will become dynamic and empathetic leaders, the kind that Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, describes as those who “invent, lead (regardless of title), connect with others… love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.”

Keith Fairweather is Deputy Headmaster at St Alban’s College.


Category: Autumn 2011

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  1. albert soko says:

    I currently in grade 10 and I’ve read all the remarks that have been made about this leadership programe and I’m very keen to find out more about it and to maybe be able to attend it next year.I go to dominican convent school in Belgravia

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