Articles, Research & News

Vision: Part of our vision is to catalyze research in the area of young leader development. Very little research exists in this area, although interest is increasing. Following are a variety of published articles. Those written by Dr. Nelson are free and he offers you the right to copy them, but are not for resale. If you are interested in discussing research topics, please contact us at info@kidlead.com.


  •  Click HERE for ideas on how to raise the sense of urgency in you as a student leader developer and why people who go through KidLead trainer certification but fail to launch.
  •  Click HERE for an article on community networking for your student leadership (SLA magazine)
  •  Click HERE for an article on summer prep planning for your student leadership (SLA magazine)
  •  Click HERE for an article on schools ramping up for fall student leadership (SLA magazine)
  •  Click HERE for article on summer development ideas for student leaders from Student Leadership magazine.
  •  Click HERE for Affirming Leaders article and teaching affirmation to leaders (SLA magazine)
  •  Click HERE for You Yoda article on coaching socio-emotional skills in young leaders (SLA magazine)
  •  Click HERE for article on using political elections for training (Student Leadership Activities magazine).
  •  Click HERE for article on learning to lead through service projects from Student Leadership magazine.
  •  Click HERE for article on motivating student leaders from Student Leadership Activities magazine.
  •  Click HERE (page 1) and HERE (page 2) for an article on disciplining student leaders in Student Leadership Activities magazine.
  •  Click HERE for an article on young leaders, ages 2-22 (Excellence in Leadership magazine)
  •  Click HERE for a brief on the difference between “elitism & uniqueness” regarding student selection
  •  Click HERE for an article in “Working Mother” magazine on developing your child’s leadership
  •  Click HERE for “Stepping In Early to Develop Leaders” article from the Center for Creative Leadership
  •  Click HERE for “Central Coast Parent Magazine’s” story on KidLead
  •  Click HERE for the Student Leadership Development Assessment instrument for organizations
  •  Click HERE for the Student Leadership Development Assessment instrument for organizations
  •  Click HERE for Student M magazine’s article in assessing your child’s leadership ability
  •  Click HERE for Student Leadership Activities magazine article on selecting student government members
  •  Click HERE for Student Leadership Activities magazine article on situational leading styles
  •  Click HERE for Student Leadership Activities magazine article on leadership personality styles
  •  Click HERE for Student Leadership Activities magazine article on leadership communication

Research/Scholarly Content

    • Click HERE for Dr. Ben Dattner’s PowerPoint slideshow on birth order and leadership.
    •  HERE for Linda Carli’s research on Gender and Social Influence.  It’s an eye-opener for women leaders.
    •  HERE for a scholarly article: The benefits of a long-lens approach to leader development; Understanding the seeds of leadership, by Drs. Murphy & Johnson, published in The Leadership Quarterly, 22 (201 1) 459-470.
    •  HERE for a link to the book edited by Drs. Murphy & Johnson, titled “Early Development and Leadership,” published by Rutledge Press.  This is the first quality, academic book, published on the topic of young leader development.  Dr. Nelson highly recommends it for those interested in the subject and for professors looking for a good textbook.
    •  HERE for a chapter from the Murphy & Johnson book by Avolio & Lester (“Beginnings Matter”) on the windows of opportunities to get to leaders while they’re pliable in various vital areas pertinent to leading effectively.
    •  HERE for an article featured in Harvard Business Review by Laura Pappano that focuses on a longitudinal study on how you can identify youth more likely to emergy as leaders through their early behaviors: “From Math Helper to Community Organizer.”
    •  HERE for a white paper from the Center for Creative Leadership: Expanding the Leadership Equation, on why we need to expand leadership development to young ages and when business leaders believe leadership development should begin.
    •  HERE to read an article on group IQ, the ability of a team to consistently solve problems.  Since that’s what leaders do, help teams improve, we believe that starting young will help leaders raise team IQ due to experience.

Dr. Nelson also recommends these book, dealing with issues related to young leader development:

Clifton YouthThis is a strengths  finder  book for preteens.  While it doesn’t have a lot of info on leadership, it is about finding gifts beyond academics that we recommend for young people.  Leaders do well when they find their other gifts.

First Born BookDr. Lehman is a psychologist who is the leading expert on birth order.  In this book, Lehman talks a lot about first and only borns.  He notes that many in this position, find themselves in leader roles.

teen 2.0Dr. Robert Epstein is a pschologist, researcher who has studied adolescence.  He discovered that this is a relatively new social construct, beginning after the Civil War (US).  One of the results is that we infantalyze leaders, treating them like kids.  The context of leadership is that we also do not consider teens as able to lead and we set the bar very low.  This is unfortunate.

book Leadership Challenge for TeensLeadership Challenge is a beststelling business book for adults, but this version is designed for teens.  Kouzes and Posner offer ideas for youth, based on the adult concepts in the book.


When does 1 + 8 = 1500?  KidLead Math

The Monterey, CA Blue Module training grad class had 15 preteens, culminating in a group decision to pursue a leadership project that aided the needy.  With the number of homeless and in-need families on the increase in the county, the Leaders voted to accept the challenge of raising food to donate to the Salvation Army’s Good Samaritan Center in Sand City.  Because of vacations, only 8 could participate, but these 8 Leaders raised nearly 1500 pounds of goods and then served boxes of food to senior adults on July 23.  Two television stations and three newspapers covered the story.  Click HEREto read the article in The Monterey Herald.  Oh, the math: 1 LeadNow training module, plus 8 Leaders, equals 1500 lbs. of food…not bad productivity!  When’s the last time you donated 3/4 of a ton of food to help the needy?  LeadNow grads are awesome!

KidLead Interacts w/Nickelodeon Staff

Last week, KidLead connected with a research staff member for Nickelodeon, one of the premier companies focusing on preteens and part of the MTV network.  Nickelodeon does much of it’s own research and is proprietary, so specific issues were not discussed.  But the staff member did recommend resources for KidLead’s ongoing networking and learning in this specialty.  The researcher went on to say, “I’m very impressed with KidLead.  One thing we’re learning is that the rising, digitally influenced generation is more informed and connected than any other in history and they’re concerned about both local and global issues.  This is the perfect time to show these young leaders how to lead effectively.”

Connecting at Stanford University (CA)

Dr. Nelson met with staff members from two organizations on Stanford University campus this week, Challenge Success (www.challengesuccess.org) and the John Gardner Center (www.gardnercenter.stanford.edu), both affiliated with the School of Education.  Challenge Success focuses on helping schools, parents and students, learn the importance of balance in formidable years and to avoid unhealthy pressures of performance that drive many students to cheating, stress, depression, and even suicide.  The John Gardner Center provides programs and research dealing with youth in leadership and community in a variety of applications.  The goal of these meetings was to begin to explore possibilities of networking and viable partnerships and research opportunities.

Monterey County LeadNow Club Strives for a “Ton of Fun”

Believing that giving people are happy people, fifteen of the Monterey (CA) area Blue module grads have set out to raise 2,000 pounds of food to benefit the poor in their area, called “A Ton of Fun.”  They brainstormed and then voted on a project to see if they can make an impact in an areas that has seen a 70% increase in the homeless over the last 2 years due to the economy.  Each Leader is responsible for developing a team that will strive to raise nearly 140 lbs. of food, culminating in a “serve the seniors” day on July 23.  Justin White is the 13 year old executive director, working with 3 Team Leaders: Gina Morales, Courtney Creel, and Casey Bell.  We’ll report back in a month to let you know how they did in spite of vacations and camps.

Types of Kids Who Benefit from LeadNow Training

Following a 2-Saturday Blue Module intensive in Monterey, CA, I was reminded of the types of young leaders whom we see in the program and the way they benefit from this style of concentrated training.  There are 4 categories we see the most:
1. Boss Moss: This individual confuses leadership with bossing people around.  Unfortunately, the controlling, autocratic mindset is quite common in adulthood, but LeadNow coaching can soften this trait and teach a more socially intelligent approach to team building. One way they discover this is by the adult Koach feedback as well as learning how to be a good team mate in a context of mutual learning and direct supervision.

2. Timid Tim: This individual has legitimate leadership aptitude, as opposed to someone with a low capacity to learn leading, but during our training we see this person step up in confidence and exude assertiveness.  Again, this is created by a structured setting where a Koach provides ideas and affirms more overt leader behaviors.  It’s fun to see these “Tims” step up their leading by mid-module.
3. Balanced Brooke: This leader already has a pretty solid approach to leading, but the real benefit we see in this category is improved confidence and skill expansion.  Because most kids have little experience where they’ve been the leader in formal settings with Koaching, “Brooke” types quickly embrace the lessons and activities that add skills and tools to a foundation that is ready for learning and improvement.
4. Breakthrough Bob: These are the young leaders who literally blossom in front of your eyes as they begin to see themselves as leaders.  They legitimately belong in the LeadNow training because adults have seen their aptitude, but they don’t think of themselves as leaders.  This internal change in psyche is pretty exciting when the young leader discovers his/her wiring to be a leader.  It is the sleeping giant awakened.

Preteens in the News

More and more we’re hearing about preteens, as Disney and Nickelodeon have captured the vibe and fanned the flames of this micro-culture, now 20,000,000 strong.  More and more people are recognizing what history has known, that young people really can be influential.  A February article in USA Today expands on this, noting we’re apt to hear a lot more about this segment since the Obama girls are now both official preteens (8-12 years old).  KidLead is rolling out Monterey’s Lead50, a goal of identifying and training 50 promising young leaders in the Monterey Peninsula (CA) and introducing LeadNow training to this part of the country as well.  KidLead now has certified trainers in 4 states and we’re lining up an August training in the Phoenix metro area.  Pass the word.

It’s cooler than ever to be a tween, but is childhood lost?

USA Today – February 02, 2009

KidLead Founder Meets with Salinas City Officials; a Leading City in Adolescent Homicide

Last week, Dr. Nelson met with the Mayor and Chief of Police of Salinas, CA.  Salinas is known as the salad bowl of America, producing 80% of lettuce alone.  It is in a fertile valley just east of the Monterey peninsula and home to Pulitzer Prize winning author, John Steinbeck.  But Salinas has been plagued with gang violence, with 24 killings in ’08 for a city just under 150K, and 9 murders the first 2 months of ’09. KidLead’s vision of targeting leaders while they’re still moldable addresses the root of gang violence, as new leaders tend to be recruited during preteen years.  At the same time, city officials noted that the problem is also systemic to the family culture.  While KidLead offers the finest preadolescent leadership training curriculum, we still acknowledge the vital role that parents and family members play in the life of a young leader.  KidLead is planning two launch programs in Monterey County, one for the peninsula and one for Salinas, two distinct demographics, but both ripe with future leaders.