Among the Gifted and Talented
ERIC Identifier: ED262511
Publication Date: 1985-00-00
Author: Addison, Linda
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA.
Interest in identifying and nurturing leadership potential dates back to the time of
Aristotle and Plato. Continuing interest in leadership has been evident in federal and
state legislation for the gifted and talented. Leadership has been a desginated talent
area in the definition of gifted students who require a differentiated program.
In addition, one aim of differentiated instruction for students gifted in areas other than
leadership is to help these students assume leadership roles in their chosen fields.
Thus, development of leadership abilities of gifted students can take a two-prong
approach -- nurturance of students identified as gifted leaders and the development of
leadership abilities of students gifted in any of the other talent areas.
WHAT IS MEANT BY LEADERSHIP?
Leadership is the ability to influence the activities of an individual or group toward the
achievement of a goal. The definition has evolved from the idea of a leader being a born
leader or simply "one who leads" to a more complex view of how a person exerts
For example, leaders can be influential as task-oriented leaders or relationship-oriented
leaders. The task-oriented leader excels at establishing well-defined patterns of
organization, channels of communication, and ways of getting tasks accomplished. The
relationship-oriented leader, on the other hand, leads by maintaining personal
relationships between members of the group by opening up communication, providing
emotional support and using facilitating behaviors.
Both task-oriented and relationship-oriented leaders are necessary for effective group
functioning, but the leadership abilities of either one of these leaders may go unnoticed
if the definition of leadership used by the schools is too one-dimensional.
Another helpful dichotomy for identifying and nurturing leadership abilities of gifted and
talented students is that of the active versus the reflective leader. The active leader
exerts influence over the group through the force of his or her personality. Political,
community, or student council leaders are examples of active leaders.
The reflective leader, on the other hand, is influential through the force of his or her
ideas. Thus, while Einstein may never have campaigned for office, he is a leader
because of the influence of his ideas. Students gifted in any of the talent areas have the
potential to lead by contributing influential ideas to their chosen fields.
While no single best definition of leadership exists, teachers working with gifted and
talented students may use these broadened notions of leadership to identify the
strengths and weaknesses of students as the framework for an intervention program. As
with creativity and thinking abilities, leadership skills can be developed and honed
through training programs.
HOW CAN TEACHERS IDENTIFY THE LEADERSHIP ABILITIES OF GIFTED AND
No standardized test of leadership will identify the leadership potential of gifted and
talented students. As with other areas of giftedness, a combination of methods will aid
the teacher in identifying those who excel in this area and in determining individual
strengths and weaknesses. Some of the methods found to be useful include:
Many group dynamics and human relations textbooks contain checklists that further
pinpoint leadership abilities. The information gathered in this process should give
direction to the intervention program and should be collected on a continuous basis.
- Nomination and/or rating by peers, teachers, self, or community group members (for
example, scout, church or 4-H group leaders)
- Observation of simulation activities
- Biographical information on past leadership experiences
- Personality tests (such as the Myers-Briggs Type indicator)
- Leadership styles instruments (such as the Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability
Description) which may be interpreted to give leadership profiles
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM?
A comprehensive leadership development program can be developed around the
Profiles of individual student strengths and weaknesses in these areas can help the
teacher in refining the focus of the intervention program. Leadership training typically
occurs in a group context, but gifted and talented students benefit from setting and
developing individual goals related to leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
- Knowledge: historical study of leaders, qualities of leaders, theories of leadership,
- Skills: organization and delegation, problem solving, shared leadership,
communication, futuristic thinking, decision making, conflict resolution, goal setting,
group dynamics, divergent thinking, time management
- Attitudes: self-confidence as a leader, flexibility, social and moral responsibility,
sensitivity to others, enthusiasm, sense of commitment
WHAT ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS FACILITATE DEVELOPMENT OF
There are many possible administrative arrangements to deliver leadership training,
ranging from one-day to year-long efforts. One day convocations or colloquia on
leadership may involve one school district or may be a regional effort. These often offer
the opportunity to involve community members who have leadership positions or are
connected with leadership training programs in their own positions.
Short-term offerings on leadership may be arranged for in-class time or may occur
before or after school or during summers. Options might include:
Year-long leadership programs may involve integrating leadership skills training into
subject areas such as social studies or into co-curricular activities. They also may entail
setting up mentorships or internships with persons in the community who are in
leadership positions. A school district seeking to implement a leadership program
should survey the needs of their students and the resources available in the area to
facilitate the choice of alternative programs.
- Learning centers designed to teach knowledge or skills
- Thematic units in social studies, language arts, or science
- Seminars or mini-courses, perhaps conducted by community resources
- Elective courses specifically on leadership.
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and
Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under OERI contract. The opinions
expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI or
the Department of Education.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Addison, L. B. INVESTIGATION OF THE LEADERSHIP ABILITIES OF
INTELLECTUALLY GIFTED STUDENTS. Unpublished dissertation. Tampa, FL:
University of South Flordia, 1984.
Briggs, K. C., and I. B. Myers. MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR. Palo Alto, CA:
Consulting Psychologist Press, 1976.
Cooper, Carolyn R., editor. DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL IN GIFTED
CHILDREN AND YOUTH. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children, 1985.
Foster, W. "Leadership: A Conceptual Framework for Recognizing and Educating."
GIFTED CHILD QUARTERLY 25 (1981):17-25.
Gallagher, J. J., and others. LEADERSHIP UNIT: THE USE OF TEACHER-SCHOLAR
TEAMS TO DEVELOP UNITS FOR THE GIFTED. New York: Trillium Press, 1982.
Hersey, P., and K. H. Blanchard. LEADER EFFECTIVENESS AND ADAPTABILITY
DESCRIPTION. LaJolla, CA: University Associates Press, 1976.
Johnson, D. W., and F. P. Johnson. JOINING TOGETHER: GROUP THEORY AND
GROUP SKILLS. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982.
Kitano, M. K., and N. Tofoya. "Preschool Leadership: A Review and Critique."
JOURNAL FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 5 (1982):78-89.
Lindsay, B. "Leadership and Giftedness: Developing a Profile." JOURNAL FOR THE
EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED 1 (1978):63-69.
Magoon, R. A., and H. G. Jellen. DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN CHILDREN
AND YOUTH. Poquoson, VA: Human Development Press, 1980.
Parker, J. P. ACTIVITIES FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT BASED ON THE
LEADERSHIP TRAINING MODEL. Lafayette, LA: University of Southwest Louisiana,
Passow, A. H., editor. A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERSHIP. Ventura, CA: Ventura
County Superintendent of Schools, 1977.
Pfeiffer, J. W., and J. E. Jones. A HANDBOOK OF STRUCTURED EXPERIENCES
FOR HUMAN RELATIONS TRAINING. LaJolla, CA: University Associates Press, 1980.
Stogdill, R. M. A HANDBOOK OF LEADERSHIP: A SURVEY OF THEORY AND
RESEARCH. New York: The Free Press, 1974.
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