Spring 2012
Click HERE for the 1-page on how young leader development reduces bullying and other anti-social behaviors at school plus how you can add positive messages through your natural influencers.

Fall 2011
Koaching Cues: Stop Teaching & Leading
     Perhaps the biggest single mistake adults make in training young leaders, is doing too much teaching and leading themselves.  One of the strongest habits we have to break most Trainers of, as they go through the certification process, is to re-orientate them away from leading and teaching because that’s what we’re conditioned to do as adults, working with students.  But for 10-13 year olds, the target group of our LeadNow training curriculum, our goal is to teach them using a Socratic method variation and coach them as young leaders.  Actually, even the word “trainer” is a bit of a misnomer because it implies that I’m giving you skills.  In reality, most Trainers are actually learning facilitators.  They help facilitate an activity and environment where a young leader is apt to learn how to lead, versus telling her what to do.
If you poke your head into most groups of adults and preteens, you’ll find the adults behaving as leaders and teachers.  They are telling the students what they should know about leading and they are also acting as the leader of the students.  What we’ve learned is that when a preteen has leadership aptitude, the ability to learn how to lead, your approach must be different if you want him to truly learn how to lead and think like a leader.  We train our Trainers to talk 25% of less and of that, 75% should be asking questions.  Good question asking is not easy.  It is akin to the game show, Jepeordy, where the answer is given and then the contestant has to formulate the answer in the form of a question.
A young leader trainer must be able to recognize a leadership situation and then look at what is missing or needs to be improved, in order to provide a question to the young leader and elevate his/her thinking.  For example, during a leadership activity, when 2-3 of the team members are not involved and perhaps looking around, an adult might say, “Hey you guys, pay attention.”  That would be acting as the leader.  Instead, the adult, upon noticing the lack of engagement, would whisper to the student Team Leader, “Jesse, are all your team members engaged?  What could you do to involve them?”  You haven’t supplied the answer and thus hijacked the learning process.  What you’ve done is elevate Jesse’s awareness and then empowered him to take action on his own.
Again, this works best when a student has a critical level of leadership aptitude and when the adult is a leader who can read a leadership situation and thus know how to ask strategic questions versus providing solutions.  This makes young leaders owners of their knowledge instead of renters.  We know that people tend to take better care of what they own than what they rent, so you’re more apt to raise confident leaders.  These skills are counter intuitive to most adults, but they make a big difference when trying to train young leaders how to really lead themselves and not just parrott leadership responses.

March/April 2010 “Read More” E-News Articles (scroll down for the Austin Gutwein Interview) 

A Whole New Leader

Daniel Pink’s bestselling book, “A Whole New Mind,” provides strong reasons of why leadership training prepares young leaders for success.  Leaders must use left and right hemispheres of their brains to be effective and as our culture is changing, those using both will outperform left-brain oriented current roles.

Pink summarizes 3 things research has shown about the hemispheres of the brain and how they function, beyond the commonly known fact that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right controls the left.

  1. The left hemisphere is sequential and the right is simultaneous.  The left tends to think sequence, A-B-C-D, but the right sees things simultaneously, providing meaning for how they work together.  This is especially important for leaders because they must process multiple issues at the same time, requiring a more complex function.
  2. The left hemisphere specializes in text and the right hemisphere specializes in context.  For example, leaders can’t just hear what a person says, they must also read how it is said, what the nonverbal is communicating, and how it impacts a situation.  L-thinking handles the what but the R-thinking focuses on the how.  This is vital for effective leading, reading motives, relationships, and context.
  3. The left hemisphere analyzes the details and the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture.  L-thinking analyzes, but R-thinking synthesizes.  The left grasps categories and details, but the right sees relationships and the big picture.  While both are vital, synthesizing is more important for leading well because it includes multiple ideas and sources in order to see the big picture and make decisions appropriately.

Pink goes on to suggest that while parents in the past wished their child would go into computer programming, medicine and law, these L-thinking professions are being outsourced by cheaper foreign talent and minimized by faster computers and databases.  His recommend is to pursue skills and professions that are less likely to be reduced by technology and outsourcing.  Obviously, leadership is one of those because while leadership is whole mind activity, it is highly right brain oriented.

“That is why high tech is no longer enough,” Pink writes.  “We’ll need to supplement our well-developed high-tech abilities with abilities that are high concept and high touch” (page. 51).  He refers to Daniel Goleman’s work regarding emotional intelligence.  According to the latest research, IQ only accounts for 4-10% of career success.  Significantly more important qualities within a profession are imagination, joyfulness and social dexterity.  Regarding leadership research he noted, “The most effective leaders were funny.  These leaders had their charges laughing three times more often than their managerial counterparts” (Goleman, et al).  A lingering problem in our current system is that we will place so much attention on IQ, GPA and SAT scores, when in reality these do not determine success within a profession.  Leaders are frequently not the brightest but they are more effective in tapping the potential of others and harnessing that for great results.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Leadership is about empathy.  It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”  The goal of KidLead is to prepare leaders to be more effective and ethical than their predecessors, by getting to them while they’re still moldable.  This includes empathy which requires far more R-thinking and is a powerful resource for leading well.  While computers can replace many components of IQ, none so far have been able to come close to issues of empathy.

“A Whole New Mind”* is a seminal book for parents interested in preparing their children for the future.  Those possessing an aptitude for leading should make leadership development a priority.

*Daniel H. Pink, ©2006, Riverhead Books, NY

9-Year Old Leader Raises $2,000,000

KidLead met up with Austin Gutwein, who at the age of 9, began Hoops of Hope to raise funds for AIDS orphans in Africa.  Now 15, Austin’s program has given $2,000,000 and he’s motivated many to do more. Austin’s mom (Denise) shares what she’s learned about raising a young leader.  Here’s a rough edit video clip of KidLead’s interview with Austin and his dad, Dan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD2RJhKzTQw

KidLead: What did you do as parents that helped Austin unleash his leadership?

Denise: We raised both of our children with the principle of being “other’s focused” and then exposed them to the needs of others.  For example, we arranged for each to chose a sponsor child so they could put a face and name on someone their own age, living in another part of the world, in completely different circumstances.

While we exposed both our children to the same circumstances, Austin, because of his wiring, was the one who was affected the most.  The reality of a child being left without parents was something he couldn’t sit idly by and think about. He had to take action. Austin had the idea, but at the age of 9, lacked the ability to coordinate all the moving parts.  As parents, we simply encouraged and supported wherever necessary.  We listened to his ideas and did behind the scenes work i.e. reserving a gym, helping with messaging, etc, while letting his creativity and leadership run.

KidLead: As parents, what might you do differently or what have you learned about young leaders?

Denise: I’m not sure what we would have done differently.  We’ve messed up a lot and most times had no clue what we were doing.  One of our biggest mistakes has probably been doubt, but what we’ve learned through it all is that kids can lead others. They can dream without restraint, without bias and predetermined knowledge that something can’t work.

Looking back at both of our children and knowing we’ve exposed them to the same environments and opportunities, I realize that leadership is a God-given quality.  Not everyone has the gift of leadership, nor wants it.  My daughter is constantly asked how she feels about all the attention her brother receives.  Her response is, “I wouldn’t want all that attention.  I like to be behind the scenes.”  Our responsibility as parents is to help and encourage our children in their own areas of giftedness.

For more info on Austin’s work go to www.hoopsofhope.org. His book, “Take Your Best Shot” is also available. Austin’s been interviewed on numerous programs, nationally and locally.  Click here to watch one from NBC’s TODAY show:


Here’s a link to a KidLead trained leader, 12-year old Kelly Forsha, who is starting a campaign to raise money and awareness for clean water wells in Africa: http://www.diggingwellsforhope.org/

Jan-Feb 2010

Mom’s Influencing Influencers

At Home With Leadership Training

by Alan E. Nelson, Ed.D (As featured in Scoop Magazine, Jan-Feb 2010)

The best place to develop effective, ethical leaders is not Stanford’s Executive Program or similar high dollar, corporate training event.  It is actually in your home, while leaders are young and moldable.  And no other people have moreinfluence in a young leader’s life than mom and dad.

One way to do develop a young leader is to turn normal house chores into leadership projects.  A true leadership project has three components: a clear measurable goal, the child as leader, and at least two others on the team.  Cleaning her room and washing dishes teaches responsibility, but not leadership.  Instead, ask your daughter to “lead” dinner, deciding what and when the family will eat, who’ll do what in food preparation, table setting, and cleaning.  Everyone has a role. Though simple, a project like this has all the basic elements of more complex leadership scenarios, such as decision making, conflict management, negotiation, role definition, and limited resources (i.e. time, help, food).

Another way to develop a young leader is to assist your son or daughter in leading a community project. Think of a potential community service topic that your young leader is passionate about, whether it’s animals, the homeless, poor people, or those who are physically challenged.  Find a local charity that aids this cause.  Let your young leader brainstorm ways of raising awareness and/or funds or needs for this agency.  It may be something like organizing a car wash, going door-to-door for canned goods, or doing garage sales of gathered items from friends and neighbors.  Consider letting the local media know in hopes of bringing awareness of this agency as well as inspiring others to donate time and money.

Great life skills are numerous but leading is about helping others to achieve together.  As a parent, create and take advantage of teachable moments on a regular and individualized basis.  These become fertile soil to instill both values and skills that will become a part of your young leader’s life for good.

Joel Osteen Talks to KidLead

I was so blessed to have a dad who really believed in us as children.  He was constantly giving us opportunities to express ourselves and affirming our potential.  I was fortunate enough to build on the foundation he laid.  I think that’s an important thing that a parent can do for a child.

I’m trying to do that with my own children.  I don’t think you can be a good parent unless you spend a good amount of time investing in them.  That’s why I have my office in our home.  I get up early to do my work, but I want to be sure that I’m there for them for as many big events as possible, as well as a lot of little ones.  It doesn’t matter how much you achieve or how well intended you are.  If you don’t take the time to invest in your kids and where they can see you modeling leadership, then what good is it?

4th Quarter, 2009

Mike Huckabee Talks to KidLead
Regardless of your political ideology, former presidential candidate and governor, Mike Huckabee, exudes leadership. Mr. Huckabee notes his start in leading as a teen, advocating the importance of adults taking risks to give young leaders experience.  “I saw leadership qualities in myself when I was very young.  I was blessed by people who gave me wonderful opportunities early in my life.  For example, I began a radio talk show for a radio station in our hometown as a teenager.  I couldn’t believe it, but the owner actually gave me the keys to the station.  I’d go in and run the program.  This gave me a lot of confidence as a communicationor, which has helped me over the years as I became governor and then a candidate for the President of the United States.”

September 2009

Leadership & The Pygmalion

One of the most startling and rewarding things witnessed by those using KidLead’s LeadNow training program is a transformation in self-image.  Much of this has to do with the Pygmalion effect.  Pygmalion was a sculptor in Greek mythology, who created such a beautiful ivory statue of a woman that he fell in love with it.  The goddess of love transformed the sculpture into a live woman so that she and Pygmalion lived happily ever after.  The principle is that people strive to become as they are treated.  This is especially evident in training 10-13 year olds.  While parents tend to see their children as kids (with love), KidLead Trainers and Koaches usually don’t have the history of knowing the participants well and therefore have the opportunity to see them as leaders-in-waiting.  These preteens are called “Leaders” during the training and are responded to as if they are already leaders.  The result is a noticeable change in self-image and verbal content.  The point is that parents and teachers often get what they expect by failing to treat kids exhibiting leadership aptitude as leaders.  Society relegates these youth to activities that under-estimate their ability to lead and accomplish goals through others.  We assume leading is an adult activity.  One of the best things you can do for leadership development is change the way you think about young leaders.  This results in changing the way you treat them, which transforms how they think about themselves. 

Tip: Student Government Ops In School  

A great way to provide leadership experience is through involvement in student government oriented programs in schools.  Here’s some best practice advice to benefit your budding congress person.  When you talk to adult leaders, many of them report to being selected to student councils, as team captains, and club presidents.  Student leadership groups (i.e. student government) provide early formal opportunities for those with leadership aptitude to spread their wings.  Although peer elections commonly result in a confusion of leadership with popularity (see last month’s KidLead e-news on this), true leaders get tagged as well.  Here are 3 things parents can do to take advantage of these programs.

  1. See if your school has a student leadership program. Many fly under the radar of students so they are unaware of opportunities to run for an office or the benefits. Ask your child’s principal or counselor what your school has.  If nothing, offer to get something going.  For more info, go to www.nasc.us.
  2. Encourage your budding leader to run for office. Most schools with such programs have simple elections that include campaign posters and mini-speeches. While you don’t want to force a child to run, parents and teachers who note leadership aptitude in a child often need to plant the idea instead of waiting for the child.  Most preteens and early teens are not overly self-aware, so they do not perceive themselves as leaders.
  3. Offer positive assistance to the school advisor. Most student council advisors are teachers who volunteer and/or are asked to serve in this capacity. They frequently have low to no budgets or training.  Parents can offer to provide support, whether its assisting in funds, aligning local leaders to talk to or mentor these students, and becoming an advocate for this program on the PTA and in the community.

Because formal leadership development opportunities for children and youth are very limited in society, parents and teachers should take advantage of programs like student government, where those with leadership aptitude can learn how to represent their peers as well as conduct themselves in influential roles.

Dr. John Maxwell Talks to KidLead 

John is a New York Times bestselling author and leadership guru.  Nancy Nelson, co-founder of KidLead, was hired by John years ago to serve on his leadership team.  He’s also on KidLead’s advisory board.  John shares some advice on parenting young leaders.

You can never start too young in teaching a child to lead.  My dad was profoundly influential in the leadership development of my brother and myself.  He not only modeled exceptional leadership, but he knew how to invest in us individually, to bring out what we needed. 

            One thing dad did was something that I have done with our two children, paying us to read good books on leaders.  The key is rewarding desired behavior.  Paying your children to take out the trash is great, if you want them to become a garbage collector.  Paying them to make their bed or keep their rooms straight are okay if you want to raise a maid.  But pay them to read a good book, perhaps a biography on a famous leader, and then have them tell you about it or write a report on it.  That way they learn about these people and what made them great leaders.

August 2009

How Early Does Leadership Aptitude Emerge?  

When we think of leaders, we typically think of adults.  You’ll hear parents say, “Someday, you’re going to be a…”  But leadership aptitude emerges as early as preschool and before, if you know what you’re looking for (1 minute).  Individuals with a strong aptitude for leading tend to exhibit those traits during early socializing.  This can take place among family, friends, and other gatherings where a child interacts with peers and at times older children and even adults.  We encourage you to use KidLead’s free, online leadership aptitude assessment called the Social Influence Survey.  It is perhaps the first diagnostic tool designed to measure leadership aptitude among kids.  Answer the 25 questions with your child in mind. Parents receive an automated response that includes a summary and key for better understanding how the characteristics pertain to leadership aptitude.  While it can be funny as well as irritating when very young leaders try to influence others, it should be an indicator for parents to begin developing that ability constructively and preparing that leader for future and larger leading roles.  The book, “KidLead: Growing Great Leaders” is filled with practical ideas for doing this, so don’t wait until teen years or adulthood to begin developing a your leader’s latent potential.

Tip: Designing Community Service Events

If you want your child to learn leadership, community service is a great opportunity.  But merely helping someone in need doesn’t really teach leadership.  To do that, you need to make sure 3 basic qualities are in the design.  (Read more HERE, 2 minutes read time.)

First, a leadership situation requires 3 or more people.  Merely taking your child to a homeless shelter or to do trash pick up isn’t really leadership.  There needs to be an opportunity to organize at least two or more people in a task.

Second, a leadership situation needs to have a clear goal.  The mistake that many adults make, at least for preteens and older, is establishing the goal for the young leader.  Provide some ideas or basic parameters, but let the leader determine the project.  This creates ownership and fosters greater motivation to accomplish the task.  Adults can facilitate this, but not take over.

Third, be sure to provide coaching that may involve facilitating an initial brainstorm of the goal, roles, strategies, and potential team members to recruit.  Check in periodically during the project to provide some accountability and visible support.  After the event, facilitate debriefing so that the leaders can reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what they might do differently next time.  Remember, don’t give answers; ask strategic questions.

This summer, a group of 15 Leaders went through the LeadNow Blue Module in Monterey, CA.  During the training, they brainstormed possible leadership projects.  Due to the economic downturn, raising food for the needy took the highest priority.  A group decided to raise food for a Salvation Army distribution center.  Afterward, they met to strategize.  The KidLead Trainer selected an executive director and three team leaders, but other than that, the team worked autonomously.  The goal was for everyone to function as a leader in developing their own team.

Vacations made the project challenging, but 8 of the Leaders followed through on the project.  Within a month, the team had gathered 1,500 pounds of food.  The Salvation Army center director was delighted, stating that at most they see a few individual bags come in during this time of year.  Three newspapers and two television stations came to cover the event.  The team members then served boxes of food to Seniors.  (Click HERE for a newspaper article link in the Monterey Herald.)

The bottom line is that young leaders can do significant projects that transcend what most of us think.  Because they are too young to be hired, preteens can learn real-world leading through community service projects organized properly.  Plus, serving prepares leaders for a lifetime of giving-back to society.

Stephen Covey’s Son Talks to KidLead 

Sean Covey, the bestselling author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” is the son of Stephen Covey.  KidLead caught up with him to see what his dad did while he was at home, to help him reach his leadership potential. (1 minute)

I had a feeling like Dad always had time for me.  I remember him calling the Utah Valley Athletic Association about a year in advance, to find out when all the high school football games would be so he could plan his schedule around my senior year of football.  The games weren’t even scheduled yet.  I remember thinking, “Wow, he cares a lot.” That was a great feeling.

            I remember calling him a lot when he was starting his new business, The Covey Leadership Center.  Anytime I called him, he’d drop whatever he was doing, whether it was a board meeting or talking to other people.  He’d always spend whatever time you needed.  You felt like you could interrupt at anytime.  You’d even talk with his staff and they’d say, “Oh yeah, Stephen’s told us, ‘family comes first’ and he’ll interrupt anytime at any issue to talk to family.”  It gave you a feeling of power that you could interrupt anytime and that you were important.

            Another thing is that he made us feel like we could do anything.  He’s constantly saying things such as, “You’d be a great student body president.” We’d say, “I’m not good at that kind of stuff.  It’d scare me to death.”  He’d say, “Oh you’d be great.  I can’t think of anyone better than you.”

            Dad would  say, “You’re really good at this kind of thing.  I see you as being someone who’s going to make a huge difference in the world.”  It’s not fake.  It’s genuine.  He sees where your talents and strengths are and paints a picture for what’s possible and makes you want to go for it. 

July 2009

Leadership Vs. Popularity

What’s the difference between popularity and leadership?  Many adults confuse popular kids with leaders.  Three subtle characteristics distinguish leaders from socialites. Quite often, kids as well as adults, who demonstrate good relationship skills, are perceived to be leaders.  This misperception is quite common, primarily because leaders tend to be popular but popular people are not necessarily leaders.  When working with adults, I’d often encounter a personality style that I call the “Salesperson.”  This individual is gregarious, positive and great with people, but when you pull that person aside, s/he would frequently confess, “All my life people have tried to get me to lead, but I don’t want to.  I don’t like being in charge.  I’m just really good with people.”

When an adult asks a popular child to be in charge of something, the child will often not know what to do and avoids being placed in such a role.  This can result in frustration for both the child and the adult who confuses the popular child with a leader.  There is a likeability factor inherent in both groups, but for the most part, leaders exhibit 3 subtle qualities that help you distinguish them from simply popular people.

  1. Leaders are project oriented. Whether it’s starting a new club, determining what everyone does at recess, or dominating a group assignment in the classroom, leaders do not seem satisfied merely hanging out with friends, making light conversation, and having fun. There is a task orientation to leaders that the popular-only seem to lack.
  2. Leaders organize. Popular kids socialize and may provide some direction in terms of who to like and not like, what’s cool and what’s not, but this is quite different than establishing a goal and then aligning people to certain tasks and roles to accomplish the goal.
  3. Leaders take a stand. When a person disagrees with a child with leadership potential, the leader will often risk the relationship in order to embrace the value. Popular kids have an acute social skill that often translates into an unwillingness to alienate others, even when it means compromising values. Preteen TV shows and movies frequently display this situation where a socialite gives in to peer pressure in order to retain his/her popularity.

The bottom line is that when it comes to a goal, leaders have followers.  Both possess influence, but all influence is not the same.  In the adult world, we admire people whom we wouldn’t necessarily want leading our organizations.  Selecting friends is different than choosing a leader.  While less distinguished in the realm of childhood and adolescence, the same social principle holds true.  There’s a difference between being likable as a person and respected as a leader.
Stephen Covey Talks to KidLead
Leadership guru, Stephen Covey, shares some ideas on how he helped nurture the leadership poential in his son, Sean. One thing that has been significant was to affirm and believe in Sean.  When he was in football, we used to have visualization sessions, where he would tell me some of the situations he would face, and then I would get him into a very quiet, meditative state of mind.  Then I’d try to describe those situations and try to have him visualize himself responding to a difficult situation or a coach or the huddle or dealing with whatever pressures that would come.  Then he would see himself, as clearly as possible, performing at the highest level as possible.

We also used to do a lot of one-on-one dates, where essentially you do things with the kids that they write on their agenda, not yours.  You’re with them and they know that you care about them.  You’re not comparing them or doing it with a large group.  What matters to them, matters to you, so that they feel affirmation and unconditional love.  The more people grow up with this type of experience on a consistent basis, the greater the inward sense of security they have that unleashes their own creative potential to make a difference in life.  This unleashing of the creative energy is an astounding thing.   

April 2009

What’s Your Child’s Leadership Aptitude?

Are leaders born or made?  The more practical question is, “How much aptitude does your child possess?”  This is an important question because if your child has aptitude, you need to intentionally develop it.  According to our findings, only about 10% of people have any given aptitude, which is basically an ability to learn a new skill easily and more rapidly than others.  While aptitude does not guarantee success, it highly improves the likelihood of it because success in learning enhances our willingness to practice that in turn gains the attention of others who affirm and enlist our talents.  This is supported in the new book, Outliers.  While everyone may be able to learn how to lead, those with natural aptitude seem to be between 10-20%.  These are what we may term organizational leaders, because of their ability to organize others toward a common goal.  By taking the Social Influence Survey, you can estimate your child’s aptitude.  This is a free, online service provided by KidLead.  Click HERE to complete an SIS on your child.

Scott Blanchard Talks to KidLead

In our last issue of KidLead News & Tips, we included an interview with the famed author of The One Minute Manager and numerous other bestselling leadership books, Ken Blanchard.  But we talk to Ken’s son, Scott, to ask him how his dad helped him learn leadership growing up.

Like many boys, I was not that interested in hearing other people’s warnings or advice.  I had the tendency of getting into mischief, which grew over the years.  One of the things that used to happen in my family, being raised by a leadership professor, who was not yet guru status, along with my mom who is a PhD, was how I was disciplined.  I used to yearn to be punished like the kids down the street when they got into trouble, where they got restrictions, or grounded, or additional chores, because my punishment was having to sit at the table and talk with my parents about how my behavior was incongruent with the stated family values. 

            What my parents would talk about is not what a kid wants to discuss.  They’d ask, “What were you thinking? What results were you expected from that action?”  I remember these conversations would make me feel guilty, but what they were trying to do was to teach me to be more thoughtful about my actions.  Their thoughts and words had a lot of power on me as a young kid.  The final blow was that my parents would ask, “What are you aiming for in life?” 

I knew that if I didn’t come up with a pretty good answer, I wasn’t getting up from the table.  So I’d say that “I wanted to go to Cornell University” where they went.   Then I’d add, “I want to be successful, and have a family, and take time in the summer like you two do;” pretty much a manifestation of success.  The question was never, “Are you going to go to college” but rather, “Which college do you want to attend and what will be your major?” 

I knew that I had to answer their questions, so after I did my dad would say.  “I’m glad you know where you’re going.  But if that’s where you’re going, looking at your actions today, that are going in an entirely different direction; how are the actions of today going to get you where you want?”

            That’s the same question I ask leaders of companies today.  If you’re clear about your vision, but your actions are taking you a different direction, show me how these actions will take you where you want to go.  I ask my kids the same question.  My kids are avid about their dreams, but I as a father, I want to help them align their actions with where they want to go.  There’s value in thinking big and setting goals, but there’s even more value in helping people take steps in those directions.

I’m amazed how many people have developed the idea that life is easy and success is a given and doesn’t require hard work, that you don’t have to think things through long term and step up your daily activities to achieve those things. The people who are successful in life understand the connection between hard and smart work and where they’re going. My grandpa used to say that if you want to be successful in life, you only have to work half a day.  You choose whether it’s a first twelve hours or the second twelve hours.  (Scott Blanchard)

Tip of the Month

How do you discipline young leaders that teach them consequences without diminishing their spirit?  Leaders by nature have a non-compliant streak in them that you don’t want to extinguish.  Here’s an idea for coaching decision-making skills in your young leader, fashioned after the example you read above, regarding Ken and Scott Blanchard.  The goal of developing a leader is not to punish bad behavior as much as it is to teach self-discipline that includes considering the consequences attached to the choices made.  Instead of shaming, consider what Ken Blanchard did with Scott, asking your child, almost devoid of emotion, what s/he intended to accomplish with the said behavior.  The more you’re able to empower your leader to take responsibility for the consequences that result from a choice or behavior, the better you’ll teach responsible leading.  Adult leaders who never learned this are the ones who make decisions that seem disconnected from consequences.  You’re tempted to ask, “What were you thinking?”  Whether it’s Enron’s Skilling, Bernie Madoff, or any number of other recent headliners, getting leaders to consider their choices early results in long term benefits.  Don’t try for short term conformity.  This requires a different approach to parenting.  (Adapted from Dr. Nelson’s forthcoming book, KidLead: Growing Great Leaders.)

March 2009

Ken Blanchard Talks to KidLead 

 (Continued)  “We tried to teach our kids to be good leaders.  They didn’t always seem to appreciate it at the time, but they learned it.  I’m convinced that kids can not only understand how to lead effectively, but they can do it faster and better than their parents.  But you have to be smart the way you do it.  You can’t just tell them what to do and teach them to be dependent on you.”

Tip of the Month  (Entire article*)
Every week, you can set up everyday tasks at home to teach leadership.  But it’s more than just assigning chores.  In order for a task to be leadership oriented, you need 3 key elements and a 4th to make it the stick.  Leading is primarily about helping teams work together to accomplish what they could not as individuals or at least more effectively.  Therefore, you can’t just give a young leader a task such as fixing dinner and count that as leadership.  Three things constitute a true leadership situation:

Three basic ingredients needed to constitute a “leadership” situation:

  1. There is a clear task or goal in mind.  The better the leader, the fewer the details you’ll want to provide because leaders like to figure it out on their own and it teaches more about strategic thinking.
  2. There are at least two other people involved on the “team.” There are many great life skills, but leading is about helping others achieve together.  With 3 people there’s the potential for triangulation which is more challenging then merely “leading” one other.
  3. The objective involves initiating an action, causing change, or setting a new direction, not just perpetuating an ongoing process.  Leadership is primarily about change, so what is it you want to have accomplished that is not merely continuing what someone else has begun?

For example: Meal Supervision: Don’t just say “you’re in charge of getting dinner ready.” Give your KidLeader instructions for meal prep, which includes the following:

  • You decide what we’re going to eat.
  • Do we have the right ingredients? If not, how will you go about making sure we do?
  • When will we be eating? You’ll need to check everyone’s schedule.
  • Where will we eat?
  • Who’s in charge of cooking?
  • Who’s setting the table?
  • Who’s in charge of clean-up?
  • Who is going to be involved in the process: “the team”
  • Who will do what, how, and by when?

The 4th element to make it “stick” is a debrief time with your child.  Here are some good questions to help the young leader reflect on his/her experience and unpack the various elements involved in effective leading.

  • How did the team do in working together?
  • Were the right people doing the right things?
  • What did the leader do that was helpful?
  • What could the leader do next time to be more effective?

*This is an excerpt from the book: KidLead “Growing Great Leaders” by Dr. Nelson