Budding leaders

Businesses are working hard to develop leadership skills in students. Gauri Rane and Karishma Venkiteswaran explore the new trend.

Businesses are working hard to develop leadership skills in students. Gauri Rane and Karishma Venkiteswaran explore the new trend.

While the debate on whether leadership skills are innate or learned is still raging across the world, corporate houses are working overtime to develop the very qualities in students. Catch them young seems to be the new mantra.

Take for instance the Franklin Covey ‘Leader in Me’ initiative. “This is an integrated course and is designed for the development of school children, says Lavleen Raheja, chairman and CEO, Franklin Covey India and South Asia. The course helps students explore their latent leadership abilities and empowers them during crisis It also has modules for teachers and parents.

The ‘Leader in Me’ initiative, which began in USA, is a three-year- programme and was launched in India last year. It has recently been rolled out at the St Gregarious School, Chembur. “We also have leadership management programmes for pre-teens and teenagers and have tied up with the Narsee Monjee University for the same,” adds Raheja.

Educate is another US-based organisation that delivers practical and relevant leadership skills to students in the age group of 16-20 in Uganda. Eric Glustrom, founder, Educate explains, “We work on an education model that comprises leadership and entrepreneurship courses. Through interactive teaching, intensive mentorship, experience of starting an enterprise, and access to out of school networks and resources, we give students an opportunity to make theirs and the lives of their peers better.”

Even Indian companies have joined the “create leaders” bandwagon. Shriram Aspen Summer Leadership Programme (SASL), for instance, is one such example. It is a two week course for class IX and XII students and aims to establish value-based leadership skills through experiential models of learning.

Its not just the schools that the corporates` are targetting. To add to the holistic personality improvement among management students, many organisations are conducting various contests to test talent. Deloitte`s Campus Maverick, for instance, is a nationwide competition that tests business acumen and consultative skills in management students. “We want to uncover unique perspectives, team work, long-term solutions, competitive spirit, and strong yet socially responsible leadership,” says Hari Kumar, principal, professional service firm, Deloitte. The competiton not only allows students to showcase their talents but presents them with an opportunity to network with business leaders.

Organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA), National Competition for Young Managers (NCYM) is another such opportunity. It aims at grooming young managerial talent for higher leadership responsibilities. “Such initiatives are a great way to upgrade innovation, project management and collaboration skills,” says Sandeep Bahal, director, Center for Management, AIMA. AIMA has been a forerunner at cultivating such skills for over four decades.

“Apart from the NCYM, we conduct the National Student Management Games as well. As an organisation, these competitions help us get to the core of our prospective employees and help them hone their intellecutal and non-verbal skills and also boost their self confidence,” adds Bahl.

Training the young to take leadership roles has become a necessity and hence the rise in such initiatives. Not only do they teach students the importance of management, but also the importance of leadership.