The Transition To Leadership

from Seth’s Blog

The flawed theory is that A+ students become good leaders.

There’s no reason to think that this should be true.

Doing well on tests, paying attention to what’s being asked, being diligent in short-term error correction–these are three hallmarks of someone who is good at school.

None of these are important once you’re charged with charting a new path, with figuring out what to do next. In fact, they get in the way.

We invented the educational regime to produce compliant factory workers. But the most compliant aren’t always suited to be the bravest, the most empathic or the most intuitive.

More here.

30 Responses to The Transition To Leadership

  1. Kevin Orcutt December 4, 2019 at 10:37 am #

    In this edition of Seth’s Blog, he brings up the point that the best students in the class are destined to become good leaders. He says that this is due to the fact that getting perfect grades in school just means that you can listen well to what is being asked of you, and then doing work well in response to what they have asked. Lastly, he says that this then hurts your ability to become a leader because you are only trained to be a worker and not come up with your own questions to answer. I completely agree with this entire philosophy. Countless times we see that the leaders in the world today, of the biggest companies, did bad in school. We usually hear this from watching commencement speeches of famous people, at equally famous colleges. They try to tell us that they got their success mostly through their own doing and thinking for themselves, rather than listening to others. When we listen to others, we confine ourselves to their definition of what is possible and get rid of our ability to think on our own to create something special. Being perfect in school is not a bad thing, but It means that you have given in to one of the purposes of schools, which is to beat the somewhat of the creativity out of you. You have gotten great at listening to others and doing their work. This does not also mean that students that get perfect grades cannot not go on to be creative and be leaders in our community. People are just trying to show that grades are not everything in life and people with lower grades are just as likely, or even more likely to be the leader in their own lives and other peoples’ lives as well. A great example of this is the man that runs Vayner Media, Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary is a leading member on social media because he delivers this same message that Seth is trying to bring across. This is the message that being a leader comes from your personal traits and passions, rather than have ben a great student in the past. Gary tells a story that when he was in high school, he flunked most of his classes. Multiple teachers told him that he would not amount to anything. Instead of going to college he took over his family’s liquor business for a while and skyrocketed the value through using advertisements over the internet and social media. His parents then kicked him out of the business. Instead of bowing out, he started his own successful media company with nothing. He now leads a lot of young minds to do the same and find their inner passion so that they can be successful in life if they do not have the passion for school. This further proves the point that he was successful without school, because he wanted to be and did it for himself. Anything is possible without necessarily going down the path of schooling, you just have to put in the work to make it possible, rather than being a factory worker to a company.

  2. Stephen Hoffman December 4, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    The argument made in Seth’s Blog is one that should be receiving more attention in schools around the country. By teaching students to a curriculum, we teach them to do exactly what they are told, to color inside the lines, and to listen to instructions exactly as they have been presented. There are countless standardized tests to measure students’ ability to do just these things, answer binary questions about a simple fact that the students are regurgitating onto the page. What we should be teaching early in is the leadership skills that will help students when those skills really count. This is an area that the education system has been falling short on.

    On campus, I am the president of Seton Hall’s Model UN team, which has required considerable leadership capabilities due to the fact that it is a large club with many members, high expectations and a sizeable budget. The most valuable things that I have learned that have given me the capability to lead the organization successfully were never taught to me in classroom, but rather by incredible leaders who I have been around. When I was younger, my father (who is one of the best leaders I have ever met) taught me how to be financially literate, how to budget and how to manage money intelligently. This helped me succeed in my term of treasurer. Never in my academic career have I taken a class that has given me the capability to be successful in that regard by providing any kind of formative teaching about financial literacy (at a university where many students are taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans, one would hope this would be more readily available). Leadership cannot be tested with paper. We should be encouraging young people around the country to learn from the leaders around them and gather experience that has required leadership qualities in order for them to be more prepared for times when it is expected of them.

  3. Samuel Kihuguru December 5, 2019 at 12:20 am #

    Seth addresses a pressing cross-cultural stereotype of leadership by stating that the educational regime was created to produce compliant factory workers, not the bravest, most empathetic or most intuitive thinkers who can chart out their own path and inspire a following.

    I find it interesting how the dogma of our institutions before college are crafted to use the SATs, the AP, the International Baccalaureate, GPA and other grade-point metrics as indicators of success. For many parents investing in their children’s future, a parent-teacher conference on how their child is performing with their grades is often all that it takes for a parent to believe in the fruit of the seeds once sown in their first classes of Kindergarten. But what must be reinterpreted is that those metrics prepare a student for work under an old-time educational structure prepared for line workers in manufacturing companies during the Industrial Revolution. Your child may be excellent in decrypting a Calculus integral, but how does he fair in the way he thinks of new ideas for pasttime activities? Beyond obedience, does the student take strides to reform old systems at home, school or church? How often are they expose to public speaking opportunities? These questions must linger in the minds of every institution that is prepared to make quotes on their ability to prepare students for the real world. Leadership does not start in the CEO conference meetings; it is a skill that can be nurtured in its earliest stages. And not all students have to be leaders – many of the most highly selected individuals today were hard-working followers who did well on tests, paid attention to what’s being asked, and remained diligent in short-term error correction.

  4. Shamar K December 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm #

    This article is so critical and important to understand. Being a 20 year, African American, first generation college student there is a certain pressure that is faced when it comes to academics. We must go to school and receive top honors and make it to the top of our graduate class so that at the end of the day we can be seen as something worth talking about. It is a struggle to choose whether to conform or to stand out and innovate. Most A+ students have tunnel vision and a level surface understanding when it comes to life. They are told that academics is the only way out and that a higher education is the sole key to success. Although education is important, it is not the only thing worth mentioning when it comes to be a leader and being successful. This article is completely correct when stating that “We invented the educational regime to produce compliant factory workers. But the most compliant aren’t always suited to be the bravest, the most empathic or the most intuitive”. I often question the people who write novels or award-winning memoirs etc… and wondered why the things they write even exist. I believe it is fear that is holding these authors back from being initiators and true leaders. If all the answers are in a book and the solutions are all in between a hardcover, then why aren’t they making any valiant efforts in their respective fields. Most A+ students just know facts on top of facts and do not have any true intuition and lack the critical skill of execution. A lot if A+ students think very short term and rarely have a prolong outlook on life and life beyond life. Sure, if I were to own my own business then I would hire the best A+ students to all of the tedious, number crunching work while I scope the job market for true innovators and creatives who may be C+ students to run a more diverse business.

  5. Alyssa Lackland December 6, 2019 at 10:50 am #

    This blog post reminds me of Professor Shannon’s closing remark “think different”. In my opinion, the people who know how to think different are the ones who get ahead in life. They don’t simply do the same process that we all learned in grade school over and over again to achieve the same results. Think about the people who have invented a product or service that has changed the world as we know it…these people surely had to think outside the box to create a life altering product. My point is, I agree with Seth’s post about how people who get A’s in school don’t always make the best leaders. Let’s take a step back from the world’s most influential leaders, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk (ok- it’s debatable if he’s a good leader..). Smaller scale leaders still have qualities that aren’t at all related to getting good grades. Those qualities are passion, confidence, and the ability to innovate with the times.

    Comparing great leadership to getting A’s makes no sense, as, according to Forbes, leadership has more to do with inspiring employees with the leader’s vision. In this, a leader has to be inspirational, not just book smart. Think about the people who inspire you- they may not be fully educated in every subject, however, they are extremely passionate and well-educated in whatever organization they are leading. The best example that comes to mind is my grandfather. He always used to tell me that he got terrible grades when he attended Lehigh because he was not interested in every subject the school required him to take. However, he went on to own five successful businesses throughout his lifetime because of his ability to think differently paired with his undying passion. People were inspired by my grandfather and loved to work with him because he was so invested in what he was doing, which was a quality that trickled down to his employees. He was also one of the most confident people I have ever known; while his ideas didn’t always succeed at first, he would adjust and try again until they worked. He also understood that even if a business is thriving one year, it will not continue to thrive if there is no innovation to fit the current time period. For example, when he was 70 years old, my grandfather saw the trend to be environmentally aware was booming, so he started a solar panel business.

    Ultimately, getting good grades in school has no correlation with being a successful leader. Being a good leader revolves around passion, confidence, and the ability to innovate with the times. While there are definitely some good students who turn out being good leaders, not all good students will be good leaders.

  6. Daniel J Cambronero December 6, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

    Throughout the last century, the American school systems have been trying to educate the future of this nation in a time where arguably, the most leadership is necessary since the Cold War. However, if the American education system continues to develop the way to has been, the numbers of leaders being formed will die out due to the ineffective nature of the schooling systems.

    I very much enjoyed reading this entry on Seth’s blog since I can personally resonate to the topic he is touching on. Since we are born, we are rooted to the idea that in order to have be “successful” with a high paying job you have to get a prestigious college in order to get a “good” education and that the only way to get into a prestigious college is to good grades in high school as well as a good standardized test score. The main problem with an education system like this is that it hones in far too much on grades as the only/main correlator for a good applicant. However although grades should play a big role, other factors should be taken into account more heavily, especially qualities of leadership. At the end of the day I would rather see an individual who displays key leadership traits with mediocre grades be accepted into a top name school instead of a follower with good grades be accepted because at the end of the day, the point of education is to inform the leaders of tomorrow. But, how can the leaders of tomorrow be pampered for success if those in charge of educating are dismissing them at the gate because of grades. Speaking of which the topic of these “grades” needs to be addressed, just because an individual doesn’t find direct success in exams and scoring, does not mean that they do not understand the material in cases. Some people (like myself) simply are not good test takers for example, there are times when I have done poorly on an exam when I knew a majority of the material however, due to factors such as nervs and pressure, anxiety can kick in resulting in a poor grade. All in all, the style of education that has been present in the United States over the past century has to be addressed since everday potential future leaders for this country are shown the cold shoulder and not allowed an opportunity for the proper nourishment needed for success just for not being the reach “success” in the broken system they were thrown into.

  7. Mia Ferrante December 6, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

    In this article, Seth brings up the idea that getting good grades in school does not necessarily set up a student for a bright future. He explains that simply getting good grades only means one is good at school, but not ready for a career in the professional world. Learning is important, of course, but in real life, students can learn a great deal in high school and college without actually earning the grades to match their knowledge. Getting good grades simply means you are good at school. Grades are important in college for graduate school and many highly selective corporations. Like it or not, your high school grades are important signals to college admissions counselors in determining future academic achievement. However, the most important life skills are not taught inside the classroom. Though high school and college are excellent in teaching many valuable skills, our current academic curriculum doesn’t teach many aspects necessary to succeeding and thriving in life in general, such as financial responsibilities and investments, how to think logically–retaining information and not merely temporarily memorizing information, and how to apply such abilities to real-world scenarios which are bound to occur. Some of these skills are the most important skills that we will use in our lives, with the highest stakes. For some, skills necessary for real-world scenarios come naturally, but for others, once they reach the real world, they are left clueless because it was not something drilled into their head during high school and college. This is why I think students in high school must be involved. Joining clubs or sports teams’ forces students to take on a responsibility or leadership roles that are essential to their future. I agree with Seth, if all students are doing in high school and college are studying and getting good grades, it means they are simply good at school, but being good at school does not prepare students for their future job or career. To be successful does not always mean getting good grades, it means learning new things and developing skills that will benefit you in the future.

  8. Nicholas Hicks December 6, 2019 at 4:16 pm #

    This article was very thought provoking and beautifully brief. I felt as though he’d taken the words straight out of my head. I’ve always said when discussing the subject of our education system with friends or family that simply succeeding within the structure of American education does not equate to success in the business or professional world. In order to be a good leader you need to be creative and constructive, it takes courage and sometimes undeserved confidence to excel and carve a path for the future. These qualities are not emphasized within elementary and high school systems but instead take the back seat to more “useful” and “safe” skills and habits such as diligence and detail oriented focus. Obviously our society would cease to function without the reliable hard work of the many but it is within the few who are gifted with big picture sight and an ability to organize on a larger scale where we are able to progress into newer better technologies. The features of leadership are also so often married to a mixture of impatience and hyperactivity which cause some to do markedly worse within the rigid school systems. This subject has long bothered me as I’ve seen through my friends and family that those gifted to lead are often at a disadvantage within the established learning institutions in America and I hope that through some reform and the expansion of learning programs in the US we can continue to foster the kind of leadership which has made the USA one of the greatest countries on the planet.

  9. Emily December 6, 2019 at 6:14 pm #

    Seth’s blog resembles everything that we have been taught over the course of this semester. After the end of every PowerPoint there has been the think different picture. Seth’s blog also reminds me of when Professor Shannon said that the point of his class was to break us of the habits that we have continuously been taught throughout our many years of school. Throughout the years, the U.S. educational system has been trying to take the creativity out of learning and make us all into some sort of working robots. We have always been taught to do well in school in order to get a good job to make good money. Although in some aspects this is true, these tactics do not necessarily lead to good leaders. Some of the best leaders are those that never did well in school. Being able to sit in a chair for 6+ hours and doing what you’re told is good for school, but not for leadership. In order to be a good leader, you have to be able to think on your own and think creatively, which is not able to happen if you are someone who follows all the rules in school. I do not think Seth is saying that it is impossible for someone with straight A’s to be a good leader, but he is saying that you do not need to be a straight A student to become a leader. Most of the time, we hear about how these big leaders did absolutely horrible in school and that it wasn’t for them. It makes me wonder what we all are doing in school/ striving for a 4.0 average when some of the best leaders were those that did not succeed in school.

  10. Tiffany Lyn December 6, 2019 at 6:50 pm #

    In this article Seth says there’s a flawed theory that straight A students move on to become great leaders. Many people believe if you get good grades you’ll do well after graduation. This narrative exists especially in families of first-generation students. There’s a large difference in a diligent worker who can listen to directions well and an innovative leader who critically thinks to solve real world problems. Education in the US places a lot of importance on grades, point systems and standardized testing. Students are micromanaged from a very young age. We’re told how to play, write in cursive, color in the lines, etc. As we age this becomes detrimental because we need to be micromanaged. We rely on a superior to give us outlined work and have little creativity. Of course, education and success in the classroom does hold weight. Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, was a highly decorated graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. During her husband’s presidency she demonstrated her leadership skills through initiatives such as Let’s Move and Let Girls Learn. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are the greatest examples of innovators who took nontraditional routes to pursue entrepreneurship. Our current education system churns out factory workers. Educated, young people who will operate as “factory workers” will lack leadership skills. So much emphasis is placed on good grades and a lack of error that students often don’t partake in discussions or answer questions in class because they’re afraid to be wrong. If there’s fear in the classroom there will definitely be fear in the workplace. This fear creates risk averse workers who will most likely not make the strategic moves to grow in their jobs. Academics teach self-discipline, promptness and how to take direction but in many ways the rigidness limits students’ creativity.

  11. Alexander Nowik December 6, 2019 at 10:22 pm #

    13 years of school give or take, not one class has taught me “leadership,” Not a single letter grade I received indicated whether or not I was a good leader in class. The last part “We invented the educational regime to produce compliant factory workers,” is exactly right. Frederick the “Great” of Germany, invented a publicly funded school system so that every child would learn to be a perfect soldier. Other countries followed suite, and taught their students to be perfect workers. We are more than hundred years removed from Frederick now, and yet we still have not adapted what is taught in schools, or how we access how skills are learned. The letter grade in a lot of ways is not indicative of how much a student has learned, and with different teachers, and different grading processes, it is almost arbitrary. So combining the bad idea of the letter grade with the education system that promotes creating human robots for the workforce, and you wonder, how have we stuck with this system for over a 100 years? Unless the capitalists in power, want to stay that way.

  12. Joe Antonucci December 6, 2019 at 10:58 pm #

    As the saying goes, “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Some have falsely attributed this quote to Einstein, but its really author is unknown.

    Yet, it rings so true today, where American youth are conditioned to believe that their intelligence can be boiled down to a letter grade, which is largely based on memorization and repetition skills. Take a look at New York University, where 6 students jumped to their deaths from the Manhattan Bridge over the course of one year. [1] An article published in NYU’s independent student newspaper alleges that the University has consistently failed to address the problem. [2]

    Why do things like this happen?

    We can venture to say that many of these students are overwhelmed by their schoolwork or not performing as well as they would have liked, but how do they arrive at suicide as their only option? What causes them to feel so helpless?

    The answer lies partly, I believe, in the goal of our education system, which is to create obedient workers that will contribute to the GDP.

    GDP, is, in the modern age, the go-to metric by which we determine whether a country is doing well or not. Mass immigration is justified by politicians who argue that millions of new arrivals will propel our GDP upward, and other potential negative consequences are swept under the rug. [3]

    President Trump points to a lower unemployment as a demonstration of his success in improving the economy [4], yet Americans are becoming more and more incapable of taking vacations [5].

    The harsh truth is that GDP should not be end goal, it is not the ultimate good. A higher GDP can be a great thing, but the happiness of our citizens has taken a back seat.

    Students at NYU (and across the country) that are failing to do well in school feel unintelligent. This leads them to feel helpless and useless. Attitudes like this are certainly a gateway to suicidal thoughts or actions.

    It seems that everything is backwards now. Imagination and creativity are shut down in schools. Young students who are a bit more active and rambunctious than the rest are told that they have a condition called ADD (or ADHD) and are drugged into being better listeners, and better employees in the future.

    If we look at what ‘intelligence’ really means, we’ll find that there is not a whole lot of agreement on what constitutes smart and what does not [6]. This fact alone should be a strong indicator that our education system should be scrutinized more carefully.

  13. Kathleen Watts December 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm #

    Throughout school, we are taught that, in order to succeed, we must listen and follow instructions. When we do listen and follow instructions, we are rewarded with good grades. When we apply for college, our good grades are rewarded with monetary scholarships. These scholarships serve as a gateway to higher education, often making it possible for people to afford to go to college. Throughout this process, rule-following is encouraged and creativity is discouraged. As Seth wrote, our education system is built to turn out factory workers, and it does this very well. The goal is that by the end of it all, most of the students will have received the same education and be on the same level. However, the idea that this makes the students better leaders is simply false. Like I said, these students are taught how to do certain things and when you don’t do something the right way, you will be punished. Yes, a leader needs to know right from wrong and also what process is most efficient, but this public schooling system does not provide the other factors of being a leader. Leaders must also have a certain level of creativity and intuition. These people are making big decisions everyday and must know when to take the risk and when not to. In order to figure out how to lead in school, you have to resort to extracurricular activities. The basic core curriculum, which includes English, Math, Science, and History, do not prepare you for leadership. They prepare you to finish assignments that all have a clear and distinctive way about them. Problems begin to arrive when you get into discussion and no one really disagrees or has much to add because everyone has been taught how to feel about a certain subject.
    One example of how this barrier can be broken is our class. When we get assignments, they are very open-ended. The TID’s have broad topics and we get to decide what to do with them. With data, some people focussed on legislative efforts and other people focussed on international problems, and so on. This gave way for great discussion in which we all were able to learn something from one another. We all also had to educate ourselves on the subjects we wished to cover which not only made us more aware individuals but also taught us how to teach ourselves about topics.
    The ability to teach oneself is also an incredibly important leadership skill. You can’t rely on someone else to teach you once you leave school. With how fast our world is changing, in order to stay relevant in their jobs, most people are going to have to continue to educate themselves on topics. This allows them to educate others and delegate responsibilities. It is people who break out of the barriers of schooling that will become leaders. These people may also happen to be A+ students, but, more than that, they have been taught how to break out of that mold.

  14. Noelle Arrighi December 9, 2019 at 10:55 am #

    In this addition of Seth’s Blog, he addresses a feat all A+ students hate to admit, doing well in school does not necessarily correlate to doing well in the career field and finding a successful profession. However, this is a favorable statistic to those who do not necessarily get straight A’s in school. This makes complete sense because as Seth stated, “Doing well on tests, paying attention to what’s being asked, being diligent in short-term error correction–these are three hallmarks of someone who is good at school.” There can be a correlation between other traits for instance, being good at multitasking, having good people skills and collaborating well with others. Indeed these are skills that can be picked up in the classroom but are not explicitly taught or more importantly in this case, tested by teachers. If teacher’s tested on these qualities then the statement that good grades correlates with good grades would be accurate.
    Since professional success is the ultimate goal of most if not all students, it makes me think that teachers and professors should test on these qualities that would be reflected in their futures and careers. This is an optimistic world where high school students are tested in leadership, communication, and time management for example. This would make the new potential workforce entering the job force extremely qualified, this would likely enhance the competition that exists in the market and improve the quality of work exemplified by young employees. Is this an ideal world or one that we are not ready for?

  15. Patrick McGee January 22, 2020 at 4:10 pm #

    In this addition to Seth’s Blog, Seth hits the nail on the head when speaking of how students who get straight A’s become good leaders is a flawed theory. From the time you enter school, you learn to color inside the lines, learn simple things such as the alphabet, addition and subtraction, amongst other things. Once the students transition into middle school, the system becomes full of flaws as students are only meant to study material and fill in the answer key on a test. Students aren’t put in positions to further communication skills and students aren’t taught how thinking outside of the box can bring about new and grand ideas. Students during their elementary and middle school learning period are put in a system where they are basically programmed, in my opinion, to read information off a whiteboard or a PowerPoint and recite that information into their notebooks to then recite it again on a test paper.

    Once students reach the high school level, students are put in a better position to learn more about subjects that are outside of the box. My high school offered plenty of electives that dealt with business, art, world languages, etc. These are courses that allow students to get out of their comfort zone and take classes that may resemble their passions in life. High schools should continue to offer classes that deal with the real world and the challenges to expect from it. School shouldn’t be somewhere a child or young teenager goes to regurgitate information on a test paper, it should be a place where it provides the child a place of growth mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    School has become too much of a tool to program children into becoming factory workers, as Seth mentioned, but that way of life is coming to an end. The advancements of technology are contributing to A.I. taking over these factory jobs and allowing companies and factories to have less of a human based work force. The school systems old ways of teaching are becoming useless in helping the younger generations succeed. There isn’t enough critical thinking, learning about real world challenges, learning about the responsibilities of being an adult. The school systems teach us to learn information and write it down on a test for a letter grade which isn’t going to be mentioned when we get a job. School doesn’t teach us enough of what to do after, how we can find our passions, it teaches us to much how to follow orders and be programmed into becoming a factory. This way of teaching has become outdated and no real statistics ever proved this way of teaching created great leaders. It is through real world experiences and guidance from people who have useful knowledge is where we can become leaders and successful rather than having a letter grade represent us.

  16. Arthur Knowler January 22, 2020 at 9:05 pm #

    While Seth’s argument in this blog post has plenty of validity behind, I believe that it undermines a lot of amazing things about the education system. While it is true that skills and qualities found in almost every good student, doing well on tests, doing what’s asked, and being diligent don’t necessarily reflect success in the real world, there are many other aspects of education that foster some of the most creative and intelligent minds we know to this day. While not every good leader is a straight A+ student, there are still plenty of individuals who did do very well in school that carry excellent leadership qualities. I believe that skills such as doing what is asked of one and being diligent in no way interfere with charting new paths and figuring out what to do next, if anything they strengthen them. Part of being a good leader and a pioneer in any field requires a certain tenacity, discipline, and attentiveness that many of today’s great leaders develop in school. Given, many people develop these characteristics outside of school, but many do. Many individuals who argue that the education system doesn’t produce leaders will bring up the fact that many prominent figures in business dropped out, or never completed any form of college education. However, they fail to mention the number of leaders who did do very well in school. I believe that in general people tend to lean too heavily towards either end of the argument when the issue is quite simple; school isn’t for everyone. In my own experience, I have met both people who do incredibly well in school who are very good leaders and those who are just as Seth calls, “factory workers” who only know how to regurgitate information they hear from their professors. There are specific skills that only pertain to success in school that I believe will never translate to a real-world situation, specifically test-taking. The process of memorizing material that will never be used again and spitting it out on a paper is possibly one of the most overrated skills that schools rely heavily on to assess performance. There are flaws in the education system, however, education can often reveal specific skills that individuals have. If a student tends to do well in specific such as subjects such as math and science, this can drive them to pursue specific career paths in which they can thrive and lead others. If a student does well in school, it does not mean that they do not have the skills to be successful in the real world.

  17. John McKenna January 23, 2020 at 1:04 pm #

    To think that only a grade A+ student could become a leader in their own team seems to be a misleading statement. While I can see how many would assume this to be true, there is really no reason to believe such an assumption. There are many key traits I believe are associated with a good leader, and while there is no real specific thing that makes someone a good leader, the amalgamation of multiple key traits and ethics are what drives an individual’s ability to lead. And while some of these traits may develop in the classroom environment, to say that a grade in a course reflects the complex series of traits and abilities that define a good leader is like comparing apples to oranges. Seth’s argument in his blog post holds a lot of water in my opinion, since a letter grade can mean many things about a student. While leadership skills are most certainly fostered in a school environment, it is not reflected by a student’s grades. A student that studies well alone and is shy but achieves perfect grades will not be able to rally and lead a group of peers, but a jock that’s not as smart but has more charisma and confidence may be more inclined to get the ball rolling. I know from my experiences in high school, certain types of people can grab the attention of the room. Somehow, they can get all eyes on them, and once they’ve got your attention, you can’t help but hear what they have to say. These types of people were never the smartest students or the valedictorian, not even by a longshot. My personal experience is the main reason I agree with Seth’s argument, since although in theory students that achieved better grades would be better leaders, things do not play out as planned in reality. Also, given how often students are dishonest when it comes to classwork, papers, projects, even quizzes and exams, in some cases the student with the highest score is a cheater. Does a trait like this make for a good leader? Some might argue it is; intuition, gathering a group to cheat together, communicating in a way other than normal talking, someone who figures this out may actually have the traits of a good leader. But I digress, since there is too much variability when looking at letter grades, one cannot say with confidence that they are a good enough tell of somebody’s leadership capabilities.

  18. Morgan Mooney January 23, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

    The argument that is brought up in Seth’s Blog is a real issue that our society faces. Many people believe that all they need to do is get good grades in school and everything else in life will just come to them. Getting good grades in school should not be the only goal students should strive for. Instead of focusing all their time on grades, they could spend more time working on social skills or just working to become a more well-rounded person. Being skilled in only one area is not how great leaders are formed. Getting good grades can create great teachers but that does not mean they will become good leaders. Most leaders are skilled in many areas to better be able to lead others that come from different backgrounds. Leaders need to know how to lead by example if they must. If a leader only knows how to take notes, how are they supposed to lead those in the real world when not everybody learns the same way as them.
    I also believe that a good leader needs to be able to adapt to any situation that could happen to them. They need to be able to analyze the situation and be able to communicate with their team or unit how they want to take care of the problem. Most students in today’s classes are so used to technology and being able to do all their work on the computer. When something malfunctions or goes wrong with technology, most students do not know what to do next. They become stuck and see the malfunction as an excuse to not do their work. Great leaders do not use excuses and will not allow others to use excuses. They are accountable for their actions and they make others accountable for their actions. Good leaders can notice when others are struggling and help them when they need it. They do not allow others to fall back, they will give them that extra boost so everyone can stay on the same level.
    Leaders also know how to keep people together and can retain good relationships with people. Now with technology, people are losing that skill to communicate with others when it is not over a screen. When people can work well and under good leadership, this can lead to fewer arguments and tension between others and can bring up bad attitudes in people. Good leaders know how to keep attitudes down and have everyone work for the success of the team. My dad always told me that attitude reflects leadership.

  19. Mason Lai January 23, 2020 at 3:48 pm #

    After reading Seth’s blog on how getting an A+ in school does not mean you’re going to be a great leader… I have to say that I agree with him. In his blog post, he starts off with a common misconception that an A+ student ends up becoming good leaders and he argues that what happens in school does not correlate to what’s going to happen after school: in your career. He ends his blog post saying that education is there to produce “compliant factory workers” but he also adds that the most compliant isn’t always fitted to be “brave, the most empathic or the most intuitive”.

    Just because one gets A+’s in school does not mean they have the capabilities to be a good leader or be fitted to work in a career-related environment better than one who does not get A+’s. Picture this, a reserved grade A+ student versus an outgoing, cunning and talkative grade C or D student, the reserved grade A student is most likely going to fit in the category “compliant factory workers” while on the other hand, the grade C or D student would be suitable as a “good leader” because of his communicative as well as his sly characteristics rather than just a “compliant factory worker” because becoming a good leader requires communication skills to lead others through a path.

    My leadership skills along with other volunteers were demonstrated last semester when we had to volunteer for a minimum of 10 service hours as part of passing “University Life”. I personally wasn’t a straight A+ student but I was conversational enough to provide my insight and ideas on how to tackle the problem we were facing and think of a solution. Although I didn’t think of myself as a “good leader” I did think of myself as to being able to lead my fellow group members and get the job done. Now that I think back to it, my leadership skills demonstrated that day showed me that the educational regime does not directly teach you leadership skills and that you have to learn and practice it elsewhere.

  20. Philip John Mabalatan January 23, 2020 at 6:28 pm #

    Seth’s blog creates several agreeable claims. The current educational institutions in place don’t breed independent thinking, rather it encourages regurgitation of information which leads students relying on someone to deliver that information to them. This point is emphasized in Seth’s claim that the current system is a “regime of compliant factory workers. The format of our current learning skills needs to be cleansed. Instead, practical skills should be a core focus, along with the core curriculum of the school. Good leadership, at its core, stems from a person’s ability to think for themselves and come to a conclusion that is not readily clear. Being an A+ student can mean that you are able to follow directions.

    Not only does the current education system not equip students for the real world, but it is also detrimental to their future. By being a cog in this system, it solidifies this as the standard at which students should be learning. Once they are outside of this environment, they become lost. Seth addresses this issue saying that once students are required to think for themselves, not having that environment they are comfortable with “gets in the way”.

    Speaking from personal experience, I know that I was a good student and I did very well in school. When it came to group projects, I always took a backseat role and followed the lead of someone else in my group. Although I would complete my share with good quality, I was never the person to jump to the forefront of our projects. A system that does not promote each student to experience real leadership situations, will result in students being compliant and reliant on other people. Not only with peers but with teachers. My personal experience solidifies Seth’s claim that good students do not necessarily translate to good leaders.

    Many students play sports, many of these sports require athletes to cooperate and enhance their team chemistry. According to, this is the type of environment where leaders are bred. This is where the discrepancy can be found, leadership can by a byproduct of sports, not necessarily from our education system. As Seth says, compliant people don’t directly translate to being brave, empathetic or intuitive, all of which are qualities of leaders. These qualities can only be molded once placed under pressure to improve them.

  21. Wasima Rashid January 23, 2020 at 8:58 pm #

    We all are sitting in a racing car; our goal is to get A+ in each subject. Most of the people believe A+ students are the smartest and bravest than others, which is not true at all. According to this article, “The flawed theory is that A+ students become good leaders.” This statement is a hundred percent true because no one can develop a new thing or idea if there are stuck within a book. The most interesting thing is that people who can acknowledge their passion and skills they just jumped into it, rather than thinking twice. For example, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates are the role models for everyone who never finished college but still became the great leaders with their effort and enthusiasm. Additionally, there are so many successful leaders around the world who were not an A+ student, but they are running successful companies right now because they found their ways.

    The student must need to figure it out what they want to do in life, although it’s a difficult task. Most of the time, people spend years to recognize their interests. There are a lot of A+ students who feel burnout in their first jobs. Because they only read the course materials through their college life and never thought about how they could imply all of the theories or formula in real-life.

    Sitting in the exam by memorizing a few definitions doesn’t help a student at all. A student must need to see what’s happing in the neighborhood, city, and world. To become a pioneer, we must need to think about the problem around us and what we can do to help people and the community.

    A person can shine in life by developing new ideas, technology, and formula. Most of the students who come to college are scared already, and they come here to make themselves valuable. If they could’ve figured out what to do in life, they wouldn’t be here. However, every student can overcome a challenge; they have to keep faith in themselves. If we do study properly and try to apply each material in the real-world and spend more time to develop an innovative concept with the help of the Professor, we all can be a great leader someday, for sure.

  22. Kyle Spivak January 24, 2020 at 2:28 pm #

    The blog post is similar to the mantra taught on our first day of class, “Think Different”. Seth states that our educational system today is archaic in the sense that it is not breeding true leaders or thinkers. I can agree with this. Throughout my time in High School, I would not consider myself a leader, or even a free thinker at that. There was almost always a wealth of thought, however, it would stop right there 99% of the time. There was a lack of confidence in my thoughts, and my actions which had always prevented me from acting on said thoughts. To become a leader, and to be more confident in my reasoning behind my acts was something I learned outside of the academic environment – it was learned in the work setting that I placed myself in.
    Within this work environment, I was constantly tested as an individual to stand out and always exceed the expectations placed before me. I had learned to think outside the box, especially to handle situations, ones that which school had never warned me about. Complacency had to go out the window. All of this is especially evident when it comes to the bar environment. I could not be complacent, I had to be my own leader and intuitive. Before this it was always, “Do X, Do Y” and not even questioning as to why certain actions had to be done, in fact, I had help come up with alternative options to the previous actions in order to garner a larger revenue for the bar that I was working in. Something that which, if not for previous years of experience in this “testing” environment, I would not have done.

  23. Mya Jackson January 24, 2020 at 5:41 pm #

    In this addition of Seth’s blog, I feel that he really exceeded in getting across the point that just because one is a good student in terms of getting A’s, does not necessarily make them a good leader. Good leaders are not always the most “book smart” but are those who can use life experience, passion, communication, and critical thinking to help those around them become the best version of themselves. In every classroom setting, we are not being challenged to stand out and as Professor Shannon emphasizes, “Think Different”. It is very simple to be able to recite material that is being read over and over in class, but are we truly understanding, grasping, and finding a way to teach and help others? Leaders are truly innovative and if they happened to get good grades also that is a plus. The term “good grades” is not always relevant to be a leader or boss one day. However, I feel in our current society, people look more and more at test scores and do not give many people the chance to prove themselves in a non classroom based environment.

    One of the best examples of a leader that comes to my mind is my father. From a young age he has taught me the power of using my brain and using it effectively. He always tells me that in this world to be successful I have to of course do well in school, but also excel in the areas that are not so cut and dry such as, communication, respect, being helpful, inspiring others, and working as hard as I possibly can in everything that I do. My father is a college football coach and as I have grown up, I have had the pleasure of watching him intensely, passionately, and wholeheartedly, lead a group of grown men. The ways that he gets the best out of his players does not stem from him teaching what they attempt to learn every day in class, but was focused on explaining and showing them how to handle life lessons that would translate into them leading one day also. My dad was never great in school but is extremely innovative and knows how to get the best out of anyone.

    Not every entity of our life should be geared around books. We as young adults need real life applications that can help us develop new ideas, technologies, and reasons for the next generation to feel like they have hope. As future leaders, it is extremely important that we not be afraid to fail. We have to embrace these failures and use them as lessons, so that we may lead the best we know how.

  24. Roger McCurdy III January 24, 2020 at 6:10 pm #

    Grades are something that I have never have had trouble with. I almost effortlessly get A’s in most of my classes, and I take great pride in that. This however does not define who I am. I put a great deal of thought into grades and what they mean, and I always come to the determination that most grades are a measurement of how good one is at memorization. The more important attributes such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving are not as evident in a grading system because they are hard to objectify.

    I participated in a creativity competition in grade school known as Odyssey of the Mind. This competition involved a creative “long-term” solution that we worked on for months, and a spontaneous solution that we would be presented with at the competition. In our first year we took our gifted and talented program and divided it into two teams. Despite our team being known as the lesser of the two from a grade perspective, we performed much better. I believe the cause for this is the leadership and creativity that was provided by the members who did not necessarily get the best grades.

    Leadership is not a trait that is directly correlated with grades in school as Seth says, and it is important to give everyone an equal chance to show their leadership. Instead of teacher leaning towards kids who get good grades to lead their class discussions, they should give some of the kids with less success in their report cards a chance. This would potentially allow them to realize that they are good leaders.

    As Seth says in his blog, our education system is made for an industrial based society. Frankly, we are well into a technology and service based economy. The education should shift with this change from one of concrete fact memorization to one that supports creativity and leadership, and one that teaches students to thrive in today’s world. Being able to form their own ideas from a young age and discovering the principles of effective leadership, the next generation will be better prepared for the work force. Instead of knowing the the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, we could have the next generation of students thinking creatively to find a cure for the worlds most potent problems.

  25. Erin Shaklee January 24, 2020 at 8:16 pm #

    The blog post “The Transition to Leadership” made by Seth’s blog very blatantly describes how A+ students in schools aren’t guaranteed to be the most successful. While he indicates that these students are talented at “ paying attention to what’s being asked”, as well as “ being diligent”; he does not associate these attributes to being “the bravest, the most empathetic or the most intuitive”. With this, it is easy to assume that because the majority of students are not A+ students, they will not face this problem in the workforce. I disagree with Seth’s belief.
    Seth describes how the education system was introduced to “produce compliant factory workers”. While this may have been true at the time, the United States is almost unrecognizable from the manufacturing country it once was. Now, the United States income primarily focuses on the services it can provide, rather than the products it can produce. Seth’s argument that people have been educated to be more obedient instead of competent is not what is reflected U.S economic market.
    If Seth’s theory is correct, this leaves no incentive for students to go to school. If there is no valid reason to work harder, learn more and get a A, all students need to do is show up for, if that. Because of this, students are losing time and money spent on their education just to produce mediocre results. If companies truly value the “most empathic” employee, there is no need for future candidates to get a degree. Colleges provide a higher education in a specific profession, not the ability to understand and share emotions towards other people. Ultimately, having people go to school with no regard to how they perform will lead to poorly educated people and lessen the value of a degree. If everyone at a school does poorly, the status of the school decreases.
    While Seth’s point does introduce a new foundation of learning, the standards for education should not change. Seth categorizes students with A+ grades to be those who simply memorize facts and cannot deal with a problem or difficulty. Students with higher grades tend to put in more effort to earn them. Employers should value their hard work and attentiveness.

  26. Alexander Silverstein January 24, 2020 at 8:27 pm #

    Seth is correct when he begins his blog by stating, “The flawed theory is that A+ students become good leaders”. Grades do not reflect what kind of leader a person is. For the students that are A+ ‘s students they have clearly have found a way to succeed in the educational system. After completing their education, getting good grades might help these students receive high quality jobs. However, once hired not every “A+ student” will automatically become a good leader.

    Kevin Kruse of Forbes defines leadership as, “the process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”. In my opinion, just because you were in an A+ student during High School or College doesn’t mean you will be able to help others towards reaching a goal. Knowing how to manipulate the education system does not mean you will be able to influence others to do better.

    When I define a good leader I automatically point to my father. He was by no means was the best student in College, but in the end that did not matter at all. My father oversees a restaurant group which has over 300 employees. One thing he has always said to me growing up was, “ If you show respect, respect will be given”. Everytime my family and I go to one of the restaurants he oversees, employees come up to us all the time telling us how great my father is and how he has helped them become a better person. A good leader is someone who has experience and is willing to share advice in a manner where someone will benefit and learn from.

    Seth ends the “Transition to Leadership” blog by stating, “ We invented the educational regime to produce compliant factory workers. But the most compliant aren’t always suited to be the bravest, the most emphatic or the most intuitive”. Seth’s statement is correct because does anyone want a leader who isn’t brave or intuitive? A good leader shouldn’t be defined on what grades you receive. Overall, a good leader is a person who is willing to go above and beyond to do good and think outside the box. A person who has been trained their entire life to be a compliant factory worker will have a hard time breaking that mold and leading others.

  27. Marshall McGrath January 24, 2020 at 8:38 pm #

    After my reading of Seth’s blog on how getting an A+ doesn’t necessarily correlate to becoming a good leader, I realized that I couldn’t agree more. Growing up, I attended school as everyone else did, and a short while into that schooling, I learned that to be successful, I need to listen to the teachers and do what they say. When it comes to doing work, I need to write their way and solve math problems their way; I was never thinking for myself self I was following the system. It was if I was just part of a program following along with the rules and never thinking for myself, and I did just fine. I had high grades, and all I had to do was do what the teachers told me to do. I never thought anything of it just assumed that was what life was until I had my first job. The position I fulfilled was the leader of a group of people; I was to tell them what to do and how to do it. At the beginning of the job I struggled, because my whole life, I just followed the rules I never made them. After I while I started to get better at it only because I had one of my friends on my side who was someone that was never the greatest at school but very good with people, he helped me figure out what it meant to be a leader proving just how flawed people are in their conceptions. Thinking that because someone is good at following the rules in the school system and receives good grades that it makes them an excellent candidate to be a leader. When in turn, it is the people who understand other humans and how to connect with them, that are good leaders.
    Now, why could this be? Why is it that sometimes the A+ students are not the most exceptional leaders? Well, as Seth’s Blog stated, it is because “We invented the educational regime to produce compliant factory workers. But the most compliant aren’t always suited to be the bravest, the most empathic or the most intuitive”. In this, the author states how the grade A+ isn’t always a measure of smarts; it is, in actuality, a measure of compliance with those who receive them often being the most compliant. In many cases, this is true; however, some people are just smart and still secure A+ grades and are great leaders, but the overwhelming majority of those who get A+ grades are only good at following a system and not thinking for themself. While reflecting upon this, it is evident that something needs to happen to fix this system of education so that it highlights not only those who are smart but also those who are great leaders instead of those who are just good at being compliant and following a system.
    Where our current society is, we require great leaders who can help our nation conquer the vast issues it has instead of people who will sit there and follow the system. Seth’s blog backs this up by stating how those who are good at following the system aren’t always the most empathetic and where society is at as a whole; we as people need an empathetic leader. Seth’s blog is dead accurate in stating that the way the school system is it highlights those that follow the rules and not those who are true leaders.

  28. Cameron Nuessle January 24, 2020 at 8:41 pm #

    The argument presented in Seth’s blog gave me an interesting insight on why being a good leader comes with more than the ability to receive good grades while completing school. Being a good leader is based on a long list of traits regarding your decision making, creativity, managing high expectations, and performance in times of stress and struggle. These can hold a big impact on your ability to lead and ultimately, your mindset will determine your success in being a leader. Leadership isn’t a given ability but like Seth highlights in his blog, it is important to have your own process and thought to be able to create something great. Being able to do good in school highlights the fact that you can listen and define other peoples ideas, but it is your own ideas that make a good leader. He says that this then hurts your ability to become a leader because you are only trained to be a worker and your insight will stunt your growth because it only contains thoughts of people you have listened to, not your own. This has an impact on creating your own path and figuring out what to do in times of backlash, and chaos. I believe the traits of a good leader is the ability to be open minded and to always have creative thoughts flowing through their mind because the most creative thoughts come without the perception of others, just when you’re in a quiet space to have a free mind. Being a leader comes with a level of trust you have to gain and then that will gain attention to your innovations. Being patient in gaining trust is prominent in the sense that it will benefit you in the long run because once you gain that trust, engagement on your innovations will be the result. I found it interesting that Seth emphasized the fact that gaining trust is important because a customer will always choose trust over commotion. It really resonated with me the fact that Seth points out that most competitions you enter will result in failure. It is the ability to keep the ideas flowing and keep being creative because eventually one of these innovations will pan out and that separates the successful leaders from the unsuccessful. Being able to perform well in school is the result of being a good listener and listening to the guidelines you have received. It is the successful people that go above and beyond those guidelines which are successful

  29. Maria Brock January 24, 2020 at 9:42 pm #

    I see the content in this article reflected in my own personal life. Half of my friends from high school went to university, and the other half to community college. While it may seem a little elementary to compare this them, this article is after all targeting my age group precisely. Friend A is 18, goes to a university and has never had a job a day in her life. To elaborate, her family is financially comfortable, and she has never needed to. Friend B is 19, goes to community college and works two jobs. He manages his time better than most adults I know. Friend A clearly demonstrates the A+ student, whereas friend B was more of a B/C student in high school. Seth’s blog noted that “Doing well on tests, paying attention to what’s being asked, being diligent in short-term error correction–these are three hallmarks of someone who is good at school.” While in school friend B didn’t fit to this mold, but in his job where there are no tests, he demonstrates quick footed thinking and long-term error correction. In his jobs, friend B holds both manager and supervisor positions which show qualities of leadership. The thing is, when students are taught to test, the ones who find test taking difficult tend to give up. But it’s often these kids who have more real experience with work ethic then those of us who consider “hard work” reading a textbook until 5 am the night before an AP test.
    In class we briefly discussed the short shelf life for most professions nowadays. We discussed how students with multiple majors and/or minors in the same field often aren’t as professionally beneficial. It is easy for a business major to be versed in economics, finance, IT accounting, ectara. As it becomes more common than not to have these degrees more and more workers become expendable. This ties back to my analysis of my friends. Friend A will most likely launch into the work force and profit on an upward trend during her twenties. But, once it’s time to buy a house or start a family her skills will be outdated, and new jobs will be handed over to the new inflow of students. Friend B may have taken over and expanded the family business at this point. So, what’s the better turn on investment, especially factoring in the $200,000 college tuition fee.
    In history we learn of the greatest generation and the boomer generation who believe in sticking with your job until you retire. While I don’t necessarily agree with this, I do think the current system is starting cost more than it’s worth. But what opinion do I really have when I myself am the straight A, test taking, short-term stereotype myself. The fact of the matter is Seth’s blog shows that we see the system isn’t foolproof, but we make no effort to fix it. If we hope that a failing system can produce a solution, we need we might just get stuck in a waiting game.
    Growing up I would always say I didn’t know what I wanted to be because I had no hands-on experience with anything. We should be promoting exposure to hands on activities instead of teaching people that the only letters they really need to know are A through E on a scantron.

  30. Paavo Riihijarvi January 25, 2020 at 2:37 pm #

    Finally found these, Sorry about the late reply.
    In This Seth’s blog he talks about the flawed theory that all A+ students would be great leaders and would do great in the real world.
    To me, I’ve always thought that is not true at all. I’ve always thought that there is different kinds of intelligence. People who get straight A’s are usually good readers and can remember things they read and learn, but they might lack in other types of intelligence. My father, who did not go to college, is one of the most intelligent people I know. His emotional and social intelligence is very high. He knows what to say in every situation. He has friends all over the world and is often complimented of being very empathetic. He has founded a business in 2009 and in 2020, they have almost 30 different locations all around Finland. I think it would be idiotic to think that he is not intelligent just because he doesn’t have a college degree. On the other hand, I’ve met a lot of people who are not getting good grades, yet they insist that they are the smartest people in the school. In my opinion, you can not claim to be brilliant, if you have a D+ in a class and think it is because the teacher hates you. “Grades don’t show intelligence”. It doesn’t necessarily show your intelligence, but it is an indication of how well you can follow simple instructions, and how well you do what is asked from you to do. It is harder to convince people that you are smart when you have a C instead of an A.

    Getting A+ grades in college is obviously helpful and it is an indication of intelligence of some sort, but it doesn’t mean that you will be a good leader. In my biased opinion, good leaders come from situations where they need to be social and attentive to others. This would be sport teams, or fraternities and sororities. It could be clubs. I think good leaders are molded from these kinds of environments.

    My critique for Seth’s blog post comes from one of his last points. He claims that “Doing well on tests, paying attention to what’s being asked, being diligent in short-term error correction” will not be important when you are “charged with charting a new path, with figuring out what to do next”. I think that all 3 show intelligence and will be helpful in the in the new tasks. Would you rather have someone who does terrible in tests to be your leader or someone who is a straight A student?

    I loved the last sentence. I think it is important to find someone who is compliant, brave and empathetic for a leadership role. Leaders need to have more expertise than normal worker.

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