How Leadership Skills Learned in School Help in the Workplace

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When you were in school, you probably questioned how a certain subject would ever help you later on in life. “When will I ever even use calculus?” you might have protested at 10 p.m., after spending hours on an impossible homework assignment.

While you might not use calculus at your job in the HR department or when puttering around your home, that ability to stick with and learn tough materials is a solid skill that you gained from that tough math class.

As it turns out, there are a number of leadership skills that students learn when they were in high school or college that can translate into them being a great employee. As someone who works in the HR department, it’s important to be aware of these skills, and how what a job candidate accomplished in school is a good indication that they will succeed in your company. For examples of this phenomenon, please consider the following:

Debate Club Teaches Much More than Arguing Skills

If you were in the debate club in high school, your parents may have questioned why a prone-to-arguing teenager would need assistance honing this skill. However, being in speech and debate clubs helps students to not only explain their own ideas, but those of others. Students who were on the debate team also learn to be comfortable with public speaking and communicating with people they do not know well. If you see that a job candidate took part in this extracurricular activity in school, he or she may excel in positions like sales that involve a lot of clear communication with a touch of persuasion.

Being in Sports Teaches Teamwork

For job candidates who list sports on their resumes, or talk about it during an interview, you can rest assured that you are speaking with someone who has a solid team mentality. People who played sports in school often made personal sacrifices for the good of their teams, and they will probably apply this unselfish approach to their work. Interestingly, a number of successful companies have also adopted a “all for one and one for all†approach to running their businesses. For instance, Amway promotes mentorships, training and team communication despite the fact that it enables people to become Independent Business Owners. To expand upon this point even further, the company has used social media to explain what Amway is, how the business model works and how its partners are part of a larger group that exhibits the power of teamwork.

Student Government Translates into Solid Time Management

If a resume falls on your desk and you notice “Student Body Vice President†as one of the educational achievements, chances are good this potential employee will be exceptionally responsible on the job. In that role, the applicant had to make decisions for the good of a large group of people, which is a lot of responsibility for any one person. Job applicants who were in student government are also typically very good at time management; in addition to managing their homework and other extracurricular activities, they had to attend a number of after school meetings and likely some of the PTO and school board get-togethers.

There’s a Lot of Leadership Potential on Those Resumes

While it may be tempting to look at job experience as the key factor in determining if someone is qualified for a position in your company, certain activities in high school and college are also great indicators. By watching for the aforementioned extracurriculars, chances are good these applicants have learned important leadership skills that will translate into them being great employees.

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