How to lead peers

Andrei asks: I am a first year high school student, and the chief of my class. But I’m having trouble controlling my friends. On one hand, I don’t want to act bossy, but on the other, I don’t want to disappoint my teachers. What should I do??

Hi Andrei –



I see this same problem at the dog park all the time.  A dog will be running around, trying to get the other dogs there to calm down or behave, and they don’t pay any attention to it.  But when a human walks in and tells dogs to do something, they’ll listen right away.


Now if there weren’t any humans there, the dogs would do what we do in nature, which is to form a pack.  And then there would definitely be a leader.  Probably it would take some time to determine who the leader is, as the dogs who wanted to be leader would have to fight each other for it.  But eventually, one dog would be the one all the other dogs would follow, at least for a while.


But that doesn’t happen at the park.  Because the humans ARE there.  And so, while we might respect the size or fighting ability of some dogs there, we never fall into letting one of them be the leader, because to us, the humans already lead our pack.


This is just what’s happening to you.  You were voted class chief, but only the chief of students.  And all the kids in your class have learned, since they were little tiny kids, to obey the grownups and not their peers.  And here you are, one of them, trying to control them… and it just can’t work!


So here’s my suggestion.  Go to your teachers, and explain this to them.  Explain that the students see you as one of them, and not as an adult.  But that doesn’t mean you have no say at all – just that it can only come in very specific ways.  Like let’s say you were the captain of a sports team.  Well, the players would know that the coach (an adult) is the real boss, but on the field or court, they’d give you the respect as their leader.  Or if you were the head person in the choir, and got to conduct a song or two.  Of course they’d follow you – during those songs.  But not all the time.


So have the teachers tell you exactly when, and exactly in what circumstances, they need you to lead.  And if the students aren’t respecting you in those situations, then maybe have the teachers tell them to!


But beyond those times, my suggestion is to relax.  Enjoy your life, and don’t take everyone’s behavior as your responsibility.


After all, if two other pups in the park decide to steal someone’s sandwich, it wasn’t my job to stop them from it, and no one’s going to blame me for what they did!  I just walk away and have my own fun while their owners scream their heads off at them!


Good Luck!




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