This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
. . . The seat of honor may be placed here or placed there; but where McGregor is, there is the head of the table. I was once asked which is the best and most desirable chair in a theological institution, and could only answer, the chair which is occupied by the best man. - Harris, Inequality and Progress, p. 107.
The persons of greatest importance in government are the born leaders. While it must be granted that training has something to do with developing them, yet occasions for the exercise of leadership come to everyone, usually many times a day, and if the quality is there it will come out. This is the fundamental cause of hereditary nobility and ruling castes.
Leadership is of many varieties. There is leadership in thought and leadership in action. The thought may be quick, making the person a leader in conversation, or it may be slow: Darwin's work attracted no attention for thirty years; Mendel's discovery of the law of heredity won no followers for a generation after his death. Action likewise may be quick or slow. It may be painful, perilous, weighty, or the opposites of these. There is one kind of leadership for boys, another for girls; one kind on the playground, another in the laboratory, another in the debating society, another in the office. A full analysis of these varieties of leadership and of the qualities of each would transcend the limits of this chapter. The general qualities as they appear in school life may be shown by examples.
In the maturing of public opinion, as has already been noted (pp. 131-133), a clearly denned view must appear, and it is usually stated by one person. Still more, when opinion passes over into action, the directing function must have unity of thought back of it. That means one leader. He may, however, be so merged in a primary group as to be not easily distinguishable. The group may be so harmoniously diversified that different kinds of leadership are borne by different persons. The spokesman who appears before the public may have a prompter behind him; the unerring judgment and unswerving devotion back of the voice of greatest weight within the group may be little known outside.
A teacher tells how she took a position in a school where the former teacher had been put out by the pupils. When she arrived at the room she found the curtains all pulled down and every pupil busily engaged in talking to his neighbor. The teacher went to her desk, picked up a newspaper which happened to be there and began to read. After ten or fifteen minutes the curtains went up and the room became quiet. She laid down her paper and said,"I knew you would soon be ready for work."
This illustrates one important quality: self-possession. The action of the superintendent on page 139 is another example of it. The leader always appears to be equal to the situation. To show irresolution, or even irritation, is to confess weakness. Self-possession is a complex quality, the analysis of which belongs to the psychologists. A certain toughness of fiber is sometimes a factor in it; but again, some persons are both sensitive and self-controlled.
... A thick skin is the first necessity for a modern statesman. ... - Treitschke, Politics, Vol. I, p. 175.
Leadership takes two forms. One is executive ability; it is the immediate power over men that is exemplified in the military chief and in the employer of labour. The other is a superior insight into things that are mysterious to the common mind; it gives ascendency over belief and feeling; it is seen in the medicine man, the priest, the prophet, the man of science, the philosopher, and the teacher. The union of these two elements of leadership is seen in the highest type of the statesman. - Giddings, Principles of Sociology, p. 390.
A football captain was looked up to by all the members of the squad on account of his ability to direct the play of others, but he was far from being the best player. I have seen him take off his suit and give it to another who would fill his place better. He was working for the success of the team, not personal distinction.
Here is another indispensable quality. The leader may be an egotist and identify the group with himself, but he must not be personally selfish; he must take the group with him to share in any glory or other good things which may come to him or them. There must be a bond of sympathetic understanding between leader and followers similar to that which binds the members of a congenial group together.
A good leader has prestige. He can do some of the necessary work better than anyone else. He has courage, never quailing before difficulties, so that he imparts his own steadiness to others. Above everything else, he has a reputation for sound judgment; then his subordinates obey his instructions even when they do not understand what is being done, trusting that everything is for the best anyway.
If the teacher were a true leader, he would have comparatively little need for the rod. But in the past, and it is true still in some places, the school has been the stronghold of dolts and dullards who did not have sufficient force of intellect or character to maintain a place in the world of affairs. Consequently they could not lead the young, and so they tried to drive them. . . . - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 11, p. 652, M. V. O'shea.
Miss T. demands respect from both the practice teachers and the children. She is firm in requiring each to do his or her duty. At the same time she is sympathetic. In this way she gains the good will of all. I do not know a single practice teacher or child who would not do anything for her.
On the first day with the new teacher we were all very much surprised for we were used to having a harsh and unsympathetic man teacher. The new teacher was a lady who appeared the exact opposite in every respect. The school had long been known for its unruliness, and now some of the boys began to plan mischief, for the first day had created the opinion that the teacher was "easy." But before the boys had gone very far with their plan the teacher singled out the leader and said calmly, "John, I wish to see you after school." At the interview the offender was given the chance to choose between leaving school and doing differently. The report of it spread through the school and as a result there was no cause for it to be repeated.
In a class that I taught in manual training there were seven boys. One was larger than the rest and the leader of the group. He was a very clever lad and would think of new stunts to do almost every day, to the great amusement of the rest of the class and the great discomfort of their teacher. But finally the problem was solved. I asked the boy to do some outside work. During this time I got acquainted with him and we were friends from that time. I had no more trouble with discipline in that class.