Learning leadership skills starts at school

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In The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Principal, Mrs Marise McConaghy discusses how to best prepare our students for their futures.

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IN the Media: The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, WA Time & Brisbane Times, 13 August 2021

We spend a lot of time in schools discussing how to best prepare our students for their futures. As a result, we spend a lot of time studying the skills required to thrive in different careers.


At Strathcona Girls Grammar, we are interested in what it takes to be a high-performing and effective leader. Over the past 18 months, the pandemic has showcased leadership in all its forms – from admirable to disappointing.

Many of the skills and attributes that have helped leaders through the pandemic are relevant and valuable in a broad range of situations. Future chief executives need cognitive flexibility and creativity to manage complex problems, including many that likely do not yet exist. They need to be strategists, to think critically, and be analytical.

Soft skills, such as emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, will be vital for the next generation of CEOs. People management will inevitably become more challenging as businesses continue to evolve at faster rates, especially as reskilling becomes the norm, and more organisations adopt hybrid structures. The capacity to manage people through change will be essential. The most effective CEOs will need to be powerful communicators with a vision who can bring others with them.

CEOs of the future will need to be proactive in ongoing learning and reskilling. They will need to always look for new ways to innovate.

Inevitably, the next generation of CEOs will need high levels of resilience to tolerate stress. Their capacity to manage health and wellbeing and an intense workload will be crucial to maintaining their stamina

CEOs are under constant scrutiny for their decisions and require a thick skin and take responsibility for any poor decisions. Ultimately, the buck stops with them.

In schools, we work hard to prepare our students for such a world. Critical independent thinking, analysis and problem-solving are encouraged.

Our wellbeing program provides experiences for our students to develop self-knowledge, interpersonal and leadership skills. Understanding how to care for personal wellbeing is central to our approach.

The CEOs of the future will be dynamic leaders with a strong sense of self, their teams, and the communities they operate in. These are the types of well-rounded global citizens we are striving to mould every day.

Marise McConaghy, Principal Strathcona Girls Grammar in Melbourne.