Moving Seeding Leadership Theory to Seeding Leadership Practice through Collaboration with our Educators

Overview of recent events content nuggets and webinar support series invitation.

In collaboration with 5 schools, we recently ran 5 leadership events throughout South Africa. For each event a host school worked with us and opened their doors to surrounding schools and in total we reached 28 schools. Our approach was to create immediate value for the leadership teams of the schools who attended, but to also create awareness of the translation of student leaders’ roles to leadership empowerment and the importance of the preparation of our future leaders.

The presentation therefore focused on the below three tiers of leadership, and this article presents the primary take away value of each tier for the consideration of our readers.

Tier One: School Leadership Teams – We cannot teach what we do not know

We work with the school leadership teams first because we understand that we cannot teach what we do not know, and that we can learn from each other. A key attribute of a good leader is that they are always learning.

As a seasoned entrepreneurial leader myself, working in the field of entrepreneurial and student leadership development, I moved into the doctoral space to learn more about leadership, how it is defined, how it developed, how it best practiced and most importantly, where it is best seeded for our future leaders. My endpoint for successful leadership was defined as a successful entrepreneurial leaders because entrepreneurial leadership, in my own experience, represents the practice of every style of leadership with a deep understanding of situational, contextual and personal influences.

The takeaway points included in the first tier, specifically with regards to the alignment of senior school leadership teams were.

  • There is no one definition of leadership. We can, however, choose how we lead, and our interpretation of leadership is often related to our world views, our situation and our context.

  • Leadership theories have evolved from the 1840’s where it was seen as a “one way” authoritarian form of exchange, based on having certain specific traits, to more inclusive theories such as servant, transformational and authentic leadership theories.

  • Aligning a senior school leadership team works best when we start with understanding more about the individuals who make up the team, their communication styles, their personal strengths and their value sets.

  • Having and communicating a clear vision is key to team alignment.

  • Leadership is also positional, meaning it can be effective from the front, the middle or the back and different communication styles can lead differently and be as effective.

  • The very latest theory in leadership, specifically relevant to students is called Seeding Leadership Theory. This is my theory, developed by means of my doctoral research project which aims to create what is known as a personal leadership identity for our future leaders, to develop alongside their self – identity. In simple terms, having a personal leadership identity means that every student understands that leadership is relevant to them. And that not “only leaders do leadership”.

Tier Two: Elected Student leaders

Alert: My research, which included both surveys and interviews showed clear evidence that currently successful entrepreneurs do not rate their experiences of leadership at school, as a positive contributor to their current leadership abilities. These results are possibly best captured in the nature of the comments shared with the event attendees, ranging in ages from 23 at the time of the research in 2021 to 49.

“I didn’t experience leadership. I experienced a title and a badge and a promise for my future CV.”

 “I was taught a lot more about followship than leadership”.

 “I never fit the school system and therefore I was never considered as a student leader. Looking back now I think that was a good thing”.

We looked at student leadership positions as a possible source of where the gap between school experience of leadership and practical application and understanding of the leadership required for their future careers might be seated. These positions were originally based on a “preparation for power” model in the 1840’s which matched the first theories of authoritarian and trait-based leadership in the same period. A key observation, supported by the many teachers who attended the events, are that they still are. Whilst leadership theories outside of the school structure have evolved to the more inclusive styles of servant, transformational and authentic leadership, in many schools, the student leader roles have not.

Tier Three: All future leaders

Whilst a small group of students are elected to student leader positions, which leads them to leave school with a limited idea of what leadership looks like outside of the school structure, many students leave school believing that they are not leaders, and that leadership does not apply to them.

Many of this group will become our future leaders in entrepreneurship, business, education and politics. We all have a vested interest to address their leadership preparation. Since the curriculum currently lacks a specific focus on “leadership development,” schools often wonder, “What if we prioritise this, and the students aren’t ready?” We believe the more pressing question is, “What if they are ready, and we don’t prepare them?” Our research, spanning many hundreds of students over the past 36 months, clearly indicates that students are ready. Even for those who might not immediately utilise their leadership skills, these skills are still being nurtured and developed for future use, as the seeds have been effectively planted at a key time in their self – identity development.

Our work at EnQPractice, by means of our online intervention courses called Leadership Literacy 4 Life, emphasises the ‘being’ aspect of leadership, helping future leaders develop a strong self-identity as leaders early on. This foundational identity allows them to effectively build and apply leadership skills—the ‘doing’ part—successfully after school.

I invited the attending schools to learn more about these courses and how they could work with us to establish a strong and lasting personal leadership identity for each of their students, enhancing and building upon their existing student leadership development efforts, making them more deeply rooted and transferable to future leadership roles.

If this work is of interest to you as a school leader or educator working with student leaders, please watch for our next events and webinars on our website pages.  This is what our attendees had to say about their event experiences

  • Make the time and attend. The information presented was insightful and engaging. It allows for self-reflection and draws attention to the need for developing leadership skills in our learners.  (Curro High School Durbanville, Cape Town)


  • DO IT! Quick and simple information that is accessible and easily adaptable to classroom/staffroom environments. (Wynberg Girls High School, Cape Town)


  • Worthwhile when considering future strategic direction of the leadership programmes in the school. (New Forest High School, Durban).


  • It was an evening well spent.  Time – Well managed and engaging.


  • I didn’t even feel the time pass.  (St Barnabus Independent School, Durban).


  • The session was an absolute treat for the educators attending and was filled with valuable and practical information for teachers who work in and with leadership. (Randburg High School, Johannesburg).

Let’s collaborate to move Seeding Leadership Theory, to Seeding Leadership Practice for our future leaders. Please contact us here for further assistance.

Yours in leadership
Dr. Sandy Geyer

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