Leadership with Courage
Authored by: Christ’s College: Jamie Barr
The Cross-cultural Study of Student Leadership research project took place at Christ’s College in New Zealand under the directive of two Student Research Ambassadors (Jack and Jamie) with the support of Mr. Thatcher. The research project explored what leadership looked like through the eyes of teenage boys and staff attending the school. The varying viewpoints and perspectives shared by staff and students offer insightful contrasts. The purpose of this report is to explore the depths of courage within leadership through my own perspective as Research Ambassador. More specifically, this report explores to what extent courage is visible in leadership within the community of Christ’s College. For the purpose of this report, we define the attribute of courage using the RS Discovery Framework:
Round Square Explorers discover in themselves the ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Their moral courage enables them to act according to conscience and do “what is right” in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement. (2018)
I believe that the attribute of courage is widely visible within the leadership of the community of Christ’s College; it is emphasized and practiced throughout the school. This research project enabled us to discover the depths of courage within our community through survey and through interview. This data provides us with insightful and varied perspectives which have supported the writing of this report.
Leadership structures within our school community share similarities with schools around the world, although the ways of practicing or emphasizing this IDEAL will be different. For me, leadership within our school context is seen in the older boys of the school setting examples and being role models for the new entrants and younger boys. The sense of bringing everyone together to establish a community where everyone can find a sense of belonging and feel empowered is prevalent. The boys who lead from the top make it far easier for the new boys to settle in and feel at home. Although not everyone can have a leadership title, if students are setting good examples and helping the younger boys, then they are leaders.
Mentoring the Year 9s is viewed as a form of leadership in my school community. Mentoring the Year 9s (first year of High School) supports the new students as they learn the ins and outs of the functions of the school. This relationship makes them feel more comfortable when meeting the challenge of joining a new school. Leadership can be expressed in many forms within a school community – not only through leadership positions. It can also be visible in the setting of the classroom. The RS Discovery attribute of courage dives deeper into the topic of leadership.
The attribute of courage is widely promoted, emphasized, and practiced within our school community. I believe that this is due to the desire to foster boys who are willing to be more courageous than others. It is an attempt to fill the world with difference and with people who are truly able to express themselves. The Apple Dictionary definition of courage is, “the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”. This basic definition pinpoints the simplicity of this RS Discovery – how courage is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Now the extent of fear is going to vary in each situation. It could be as simple as answering a question in front of the class, or as scary as asking for help. Having the courage to stand up and do the right thing can be challenging for teenage boys. However, those who are willing and able to push judgment aside and stand up for something are the courageous leaders amongst the community.
Having the courage to stand up against bullying within school is an example of doing the right thing; those who are able to do it show great courage. What does courage look like at Christ’s College? It can be seen when boys express themselves in ways that make them unique from others, it is when boys are involved in drama, singing, and debating. Our school community is a positive environment where many boys can build courage; it is widely encouraged. There are examples of courage displayed in the school community and this can be seen in all aspects of school life.
Examples of courage within my community vary due to the understanding that courage encompasses the smallest to the greatest acts of bravery. We see students being courageous by standing up for themselves. We see students asking for help in different areas, whether that be with schoolwork, mental health, or wider issues. Courage looks different for everybody. For one student it may take all their courage just to walk in the school gates, and yet for another it may look like taking a huge subject choice risk, a sports team leap, or just setting high goals. Usually those who are courageous in their own ways are those who possess leadership qualities that support the group.
A leader must not only display individual courage, but they also need to have the courage to make good decisions on behalf of a group in order to achieve a common goal. Achieving this goal often takes courage in the form of delivering speeches and involving yourself with new people. Courage can positively affect leadership as it adds a new attribute to the leader if they are able to be courageous for the benefit of the group. Putting this RS Discovery into practice is not always easy. A peer at the school shares the challenges of being a leader and displaying courage when standing up for what is right:
It takes courage to remind peers to make good decisions when they are having fun. It takes courage to challenge a decision made by friends when you know it will be viewed as a weakness by them e.g. vaping. It can sometimes take courage to stand up for a victim too. When wanting to change the school environment, it takes courage to bring ideas to the floor. (Patchett)
At Christ’s College, leadership is visible and acknowledged in both smaller settings and larger settings. Courage is an attribute that allows leadership to reach its full potential. The combination of leadership and courage takes the average to the extraordinary. Being brave pushes boundaries and creates decisions and situations that reach new heights. Courage supports leaders do what is right, rather than what is compliant. This is the difference between good leadership and great leadership, and because courage is encouraged and emphasized within my community, it is present to a great extent.
Filippis, Annaliese, and Stefan Fazzino. “Developing International Understanding with Courage.” Round Square, www.roundsquare.org/being-round-square/what/ideals/internationalism/research/student-research-perspectives/international-understanding-with-courage. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021. Editorial.
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