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Why Learn Leadership?

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

It’s not all about academic performance

Book Recommendation: Turn the Ship Around, by Lt. David Marquet

“Leadership is not some mystical quality that some possess and others do not. As humans, we all have what it takes, and we all need to use our leadership abilities in every aspect of our work life.”

In order to get into the right college and have a wildly successful future career, all your child needs to do is excel academically in school..right?

Right. Well, almost.

While stand-out student academic performance alone can open up many doors and opportunities for the future, it’s not all that factors into career success, and life success in general. I’m not saying to throw studying to the wind and forget about the report card, just that it’s easy to get caught up in your child’s GPA and forget about the other areas where they need to grow.

Learning about leadership is essential for ALL students. The organization and effective functioning of modern-day workplaces require all members to have leadership skills, not just those who are at the top of the company hierarchy. Colleges have become keenly aware of their role in shaping these types of workers, so they are looking for students who demonstrate potential in this area.

To clarify, workplaces of the past relied primarily on physical work, where the leader oversaw and gave direction to a crew to produce and perform. Tasks were repetitive and required very little input from those who followed a leader’s direction. In the book Turn the Ship Around, the author refers to this as a LEADER-FOLLOWER individual-oriented workplace culture.

Over the past few decades, the constant advancement of technology has allowed for the repetitive tasks that were formerly performed by humans to be completed by machines, computers, and robots. This means that today’s workplace tasks are primarily cognitive, so the functioning of a workplace has shifted to rely on soft skills that are uniquely human. Marquet’s solution is what he calls a LEADER-LEADER model, where there is “leadership at every level” within a collaborative organization.

Hard vs. Soft Skills

Technical skills and job-specific knowledge fall under the umbrella of hard skills, while the soft skills are all of the traits and characteristics that make someone a “good person” to work with. Hard skills are necessary for the sake of competence, but soft skills lead to greater synergy if individuals are able to collaborate effectively, drawing on each person’s knowledge and experience. The most successful workplaces have members demonstrating soft skills, which include communication, empathy, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity and adaptability.

Overcoming Academic Concerns

You may be reading through this information thinking it’s enough of a struggle just to keep your child motivated to perform academically, so wouldn’t it be better if learning leadership skills comes after they get their grades up? In reality, helping your child learn and develop certain soft skills that good leaders need will in turn make your child more confident and motivated to perform in school. There might be slow growth at first, but in the long run it will set them up for greater achievement in their academic endeavors!

Preparing Your Child

The best way to learn leadership skills is through experience. In addition to Marquet’s book, there are several other books on leadership and personal development out there from authors like Simon Sinek and John Maxwell (more on them and other authors to come in future blogs). And while putting these books in the hands of your child or teen - at the right age - will grow their mind, they still need practical application. Look for volunteer opportunities for your child to participate in, along with internship and job-shadowing experiences, where they can practice what they read.

Furthermore, taking the lead at home to practice the skills yourself will help encourage your child or teen to do the same. Email us or contact one of our instructors for suggestions on books to read or videos to watch that will help you help your child.

Entrepreneurial Access

Learning leadership skills will set the stage for your child to have a wider array of career options so that they can find what suits them best. Aside from thriving in college and in workplaces, they’ll have skills necessary to successfully launch their own business if they choose to do so. Ultimately, your child will be better equipped for any opportunity that comes their way.

For more from the author, visit

Please contact us for further recommendations from ABLE instructors on how to help your student develop the leadership skills that they need for college and beyond.

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