The ethos that underpins the leadership programme at Kingswood is that of ‘servant leadership’ – a term first used in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf in an essay entitled “The Leader as Servant”. Greenleaf described servant-leadership as a style of leadership where leaders see themselves as serving first – in contrast to a leader-first style, which is centred more on power, and the privileges that leaders feel are their due.

In many schools, pupils have aspired to leadership positions more for the privileges that they think they will enjoy, than for the opportunity to serve and make a difference to their peers. Making leadership a value-driven process, rather than merely the culmination of seniority and privilege, has challenged pupils to examine their leadership ambitions. Being a leader at Kingswood is not about the status, privilege, power and title, but about the values, service and mentorship that you are able to bring to a leadership position.

Changing the ethos of leadership at Kingswood has been a challenging and exciting process. Most exciting of all has been watching young people rise to the challenge of mentorship – leading by example, being prepared to learn from their younger charges, and building relationships with fellow students that are based on trust, respect and mutual regard for each other’s individual strengths and energies.

Also underpinning the leadership programme at Kingswood is the concept that all pupils are leaders. While there is a leadership body, pupils are encouraged to express their leadership potential in all areas – be it in their sports teams, music ensembles, Houses, classroom environment, outreach activities, and so on. Each leadership role is treated as an opportunity to serve and grow. In their matric year seniors are allocated to various portfolio positions and attend portfolio committees, which promote communication amongst the pupil body for the day-to-day running of the school.

Leadership development is a strong focus of the outdoor education programme. Genuine leadership skills and contrasting leadership styles often come to the fore in the challenging tasks and activities that form part of leadership camps and outdoor excursions. These exercises provide pupils and staff with the opportunity to observe, negotiate and discuss leadership issues.