University of Lapland, Finland (Sanna.Hyvarinen@rovaniemi.fi)
University of Lapland, Finland (Satu.Uusiautti@ulapland.fi)
University of Lapland, Finland (Kaarina.Maatta@ulapland.fi)
The purpose of this research was to analyze Finnish schoolchildren’s descriptions of themselves as future leaders and how they describe leaders and leadership development. They were asked to describe which leadership features they considered themselves possessing and which features would be important for leaders in general. They were also asked to write about leadership development and how one could become a leader. This was a qualitative research employing a narrative approach. The data comprised 38 narratives written by 6th-graders from one Finnish school. According to findings, the schoolchildren were optimistic about their chances of becoming a leader. The children were also aware of the leadership features they did not yet have or that they would like to develop in themselves. These features also illustrated leadership qualities the children considered ideal for a leader. The most important features were experience, self-control, and courage. However, when discussing leadership development, the children emphasized also the importance of education and goal-orientation. They realized that becoming a leader was a long-term process in which various factors influence. They also pointed out that everyone cannot or did not even want to become leaders. The research contributes to the field new, less studied viewpoints about children’s understanding about leadership development. It also showed how the seeds for good leadership development are planted already in important childhood environments of homes and schools.
Keywords: leadership; future leader; leader development; youth leadership; life span; narrative research