Summit Insights: Lifelong Leadership

How the Summits shape students’ views on leadership and teamwork.

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The students nominated to attend an Ambassador Leadership Summit are chosen because of the leadership qualities, scholastic success, and good citizenship they display in their everyday classroom environment. It’s no surprise, then, that the students who ultimately attend have already cultivated some of the skills necessary to be good leaders. Indeed, many serve as leaders in their schools or communities.

Often, what does come as a surprise to our students is being surrounded by other young leaders who all bring compelling ideas and strong leadership qualities to the table. Students must negotiate working in a team where everyone is fit to lead, and doing so powerfully transforms their idea of what being a leader means. This is another lasting benefit of the Summit. Listen as our alumni student Sarah explains how she stepped up as a leader by stepping back and giving others a chance to contribute.

During the Summit, students work in small groups to create a team project to present to their peers—either a community action plan or a project based on the focus of the Summit, such as a patient case study. This presentation is the culmination of students’ leadership learning. It requires them to effectively communicate, collaborate, and compromise, all of which take trust and teamwork.

This is why each Summit begins with team-building activities that encourage students to step outside of their comfort zones, problem-solve, and build rapport with their group mates. They learn the lessons that no leader succeeds alone, that team work accomplishes more than any one person could, not matter his or her leadership qualities. Watch the video below as students, parents, and facilitators share how team-building builds better leaders.

If you ever Google “top leadership qualities,” you’ll find dozens of opinion articles with lists of must-have traits for leaders. They’re all a little different, but certain traits tend to stack up no matter what you read: things like adaptability, empathy, listening, and the ability to collaborate. Hear our alumni student Liam describe how, by working with others, he perfected these and other vital leadership skills.

Although students who attend a Summit frequently experience personal growth and changes, they also learn that leaders come in many forms. There is no one right way to lead and no template for a perfect leader. Our students leave the Summit knowing how to maximize the leadership traits they already possess, and how to look to others for those they’re missing. Our teacher leader Abby says it best:

Check back for future Summit Insights where we will explore the Harvard, Yale, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins campuses: their history, unique features, and individual summit highlights.


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By Corie Bales

Corie is the Academic Affairs Manager of Ambassador Leaders. As a lifelong educator and avid traveler, she believes in empowering students and teachers to learn and lead through experiential education.