For many of today’s business leaders their first taste of leadership wasn’t in the workplace. It was on the school sports field, in the music room and even in the great outdoors, new research from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) reveals.
The ILM survey of 500 UK business owners and managers revealed that 44 per were school prefects, nine per cent head boys or girls and 22 per cent captains of a school sports team. A further 69 per cent competed as part of a school team.
The findings were borne out by the responses of 30 per cent of business leaders who felt that holding a position of responsibility at school was the best indicator of a good future leader. One third (32 per cent) said that academic performance at school was the most overrated indicator of a good leader and only one third (32 per cent) left education with a university degree. In fact, 12 per cent left school under the age of 16 and seven per cent had no qualifications at all when they left full time education.
Belonging to a club or group outside school may also have played their part in leadership development . The survey found 34 per cent of male leaders had belonged to the Boy Scouts and 42 per cent of females to the Girl Guides. Sixteen per cent were once members of a choir and 11 per cent played in an orchestra.
Kim Parish, chief executive of ILM comments, ‘This study shows that many young people learn about leadership at a very early age. Activities often seen as childhood hobbies – such as being a member of the Scouts or Guides, or playing on a school team – actually furnish young people with skills such as team ethos, ambition, goal setting and many of the other qualities that we associate with good leadership.’
She adds, ‘This study shows that successful leaders draw on expertise and experience from all areas of their lives – from the exam hall to the cricket pitch. The leadership lessons learned in childhood can help sow the first seeds of leadership ambition.’
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