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One of the privileges of being the dean of an honors college or the director of an honors program is that you are allowed to work with some of the brightest, most motivated, and most innovative students in your institution. One of our responsibilities when working with these individuals is to provide them with an environment in which they can develop their skills and potential as leaders. This important element of leadership in honors is one item missing from Rew Godow’s essay. When I was thinking on this topic, a line came to mind from Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera “The Gondoliers” (Gilbert 1889). In the song, which with Gilbert’s usual wit and sarcasm spears appointed military leaders, we hear of the leadership style of the Duke of Plaza-Toro:
He led his regiment from behind—
He found it less exciting
Not a very heroic stance, yet in many ways leading from behind is precisely what one needs to do in order to facilitate the developing skills of leadership among one’s students.
How can we ensure that the students who are part of our programs actually have the opportunities to develop their own leadership skills as part of the honors experience? There are at least four ways we can help leaders emerge from our programs.