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Showing posts from 2013

Are Strong-Willed Children Leaders or Not?

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On our leadership aptitude assessment, one of the 25 questions addresses strong willed children.  The impact of the answer is that if a child is strong willed, the chances increase that the child possess leadership aptitude, while if a child lacks strong will, it doesn't mean the child lacks leadership aptitude.   In other words, many leaders are strong willed, but a child can be strong-willed and not possess leadership aptitude.  S/he may just be strong-willed, unwilling to take commands, and unresponsive toward authoritarian direction.  While most adults don't enjoy the strong-will in children, we embrace it in KidLead training because it is often a sign of leadership aptitude.  By nature, leaders must be strong-willed at times to stand up to adversity, push back on status quo, and simply persevere.   Take the free Social Influence Survey to see the broader view of this perspective:  https://www.kidlead.com/374945.ihtml  

Why CA Schools R Getting Smart

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I'm very encouraged with the movement of public schools in California, as they focus on Common Core initiatives and Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS).  I'm all for academics, but for some reason, society has over-emphasized generalized tests and under-valued life skills.  This includes the diminishing of effective social behaviors.  The PBIS movement is well grounded in research.   Young leader development is at the heart of this impetus, because when we identify and develop social influencers and their organizational skills, we benefit the entire school culture and improve learning environments, allowing teachers to teach by allying young leaders to positively police their peers.  Kudos to educators who are getting a better grip on what employees and colleges are looking for in their pursuit of effective grads. Other states are also discovering this emphasis, but it's great to see Cali schools moving forward. Check out www.pbis.org. 

The Smell of Leadership

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This week, 1000 firefighters are working to put out a blaze in Big Sur, CA.  Yesterday, the skies here in Monterey were overcast.  The strong smell of smoke was in the air, even though we couldn't see the fire, several miles south of us along the coast.   That's a lot like leadership.  You can usually smell the results of leadership, even if you can't see the leader. The effects of leadership are evident in the people, productivity, and social impact.  That is true both positively and negatively.  We are launching a county-wide impetus here in Monterey to improve the Positive Behavior in the schools and other organization with children, preteens, youth and young adults. That's the "smoke" of good leading.  The "smoke" of bad leading is gangs, disruption, bullying, and social decay and even mediocrity.  http://kidlead.com/709413.ihtml 

5 Revolutionary Ideas for Leadership Development

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Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "David and Goliath," describes how people solve complex problems and overcome difficult obstacles.  The key is to create unique and different solutions.  Over the years, leadership development has pretty much remained unchanged throughout history.  Leaders emerge on their own and typically only get formal training, much past the time that psychologists determine we're moldable.  But in the linked presentation, I offer a TED Talk-type slide show that explains 5 things we've discovered the last 8 years that will turn leadership development as we know it, upside down.  Click  HERE for the YouTube presentation. 

Dec. 31 Release of LeadWell Gold Module

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Finishing a project is fun, isn't it?  We're putting final touches on the third of four training curriculum modules for teens, now that Holly Bates, a stellar trainer in Canada, has beta tested it with her group.  When I meet people like Holly in Canada and Monica near Philly, PA and Tim in Irvine, CA, and Nicki in Burlington, ON, I'm jazzed because these people "get" the importance of young leader development.  I got to spend some prime time recently with Dr. Madelyn Katz at the Hebrew Union College in LA, about her vision to help develop young Jewish leaders. Yet, so many who work with youth seem consumed with academics and athletics.  As a guy who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School, I appreciate the value the strong academics.  But that alone isn't going to make the world significantly better.  This week, I talked to the Chief of Police of Salinas, CA. Chief Kelly recognizes that unless we work on prevention, we'll never get ahead of crime.  T

What If Teen Leaders Ran the World? (Ender's Game)

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While my wife and I enjoy movies a lot, we tend not to do a lot of heavily sci-fi films.  By accident, we recently went to see "Ender's Game" and I was delighted.  The film is not a kid or teen film, but rather a family oriented movie that focuses on a leader who is very young.  I don't know the exact age of Ender, but it is implied that he's in his early teens. Throughout the movie, you can see how Harrison Ford's character and other older, sage adults, are striving to find a leader who will lead their people out of potential extinction.  The cool thing is that they trusted the young leader, which we seldom do in real life. The movie has a lot to do with stereotypes of leading as well as showing what real leaders do; take charge, take manageable risks, and rally people to accomplish together what they could not as individuals.  By the end of the movie, you see Ender not only flexing his leader muscles, but he displays an uncanny sensitivity to the "e

Can 6-9 Year Olds Lead?

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Nina Lewis, who helped KidLead pilot the very first LeadYoung Training Module for preteens, is launching Lead1st curriculum for 6-9 year olds.  Nina set up 4 leadership training sessions for Kersey Elementary School, a town ravaged by the recent 1000-year floods in Colorado.  Since the events were fresh in the minds of the kids, it's no wonder that during one of the activities, the children created statues to commemorate issues related to helping people. But what Nina and the other parents didn't expect, was the example of servant leading that came next.  During the debrief time, the children began suggesting that they make blankets for the families of two of their friends who lost everything, including their homes.  On their own initiative, they set another meeting just to make two blankets, to let the families stay warm and also know that they weren't alone, wrapped in the love of their neighbors and community.  You can lose your home, but you don't need to lose h

KidLead Peru

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I just returned from a week in Lima, helping Ileana Gonzalez and her partners launch KidLead Peru.  The more I travel, the more I realize that leaders and leadership are well over 90% the same, globally.  Leadership is the process of helping people accomplish together, what they cannot as individuals.  Leaders are individuals who get leadership going.  Ileana is a 32 year old teacher with a passion for developing young leaders in her country and South America.  We applaud her work with teachers, students and her covey of quality new Trainers.  The other good news about Ileana and her team of change agents, is that they will be translating LeadYoung curricula into Spanish.  As KidLead becomes global, translation issues become more important.  New language content opens others to use it in developing young leaders.  We continue to be excited as we recently trained two new Trainers in western Australia, and further recent contacts in Tunisia, South Africa, and China.  Young leader dev

Sloooooowing Kids Down to Lead

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This week I had the opportunity to Skype with a professor,about bringing KidLead to China.  I was quite intrigued by this PhD's interest, not so much on our curricula for ages 6-18, but rather 2-5s.  When I asked why, she said it's because by school age, parents are very focused on helping their children obtain academic success and busy them with all sorts of tutoring and school-oriented programs.  Her strategy was to get to young leaders early, very early. I am amazed how "busy kids" is the modus operandi globally, not just for those of us in the US.  We hear the same things with our work in Thailand, Singapore, and Dubai.  Ironically,the academic success feeding frenzy preoccupies children from developing life skills that will help them accomplish more in life.  An organization has emerged to push back on this tendency, of all places, at Stanford University ( http://www.challengesuccess.org/ ).  Fortunately, some savvy people are recognizing there is more to lif

Salute Our Young Leaders

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This quarter I'm teaching two sections of organizational behavior at the Naval Postgraduate School.  My students include helicopter and jet instructors, FBI staff, and other military officers.  As a civilian, I enjoy coming on campus on Tuesdays, the day when everyone wears his/her uniform.  You can see people in the same branch of the military, saluting each other, the lower ranking officer initiating the salute out of respect to the higher rank. I want to salute the men and women who are working with young leaders around the world.  They are paying it forward, giving respect to those who will run organizations around the globe some day.  Right now, most people only see them as kids; immature, challenging, and only "future" leaders.  Unfortunately, this prevailing attitude sets them up to fail, missing strategic developmental windows when character and skills can be obtained, quite early.  I salute the parents, teachers and children/youth workers who see what I do, l

Oprah's Beau

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Last week as we took our son to Westmont College in Montecito (Santa Barbara), CA, we were having lunch at a local restaurant. Nancy (my wife) leaned over and whispered, "That's Stedman," referring to Stedman Graham, a motivational speaker/author and best known as Oprah Winfrey's significant other for nearly 30 years.  Stedman was kind enough to interrupt his fruit drink and newspaper for a quick pic. I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where we could see the leaders in kids, preteens, and teens.  Imagine being in a cafĂ© with a family or a school playground and whisper, "That one's a leader." Our ability to notice what others don't is key to drafting young leaders into formal training.  Someone once said, "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed."  At KidLead, we can see the leader in certain kids and youth, long before they'll ever be CEOs or presidents.

Women Leaders

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This week I Skyped with an enthusiastic pair of sisters, embarking on a new toy company, focusing on developing female leaders.  They're concerned that only 4% of CEO's are female, so their idea is to write story books and create activity figures (dolls), to help girls learn problem solving and leadership principles.  (They were thrilled to read "Bring Out the Leader in Your Child.")  When they're done prototyping their concept, we'll certainly tell you more. Compare that to Barbie, who is better known for her shopping, dating, and sense of style.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it reflects the difference between popularity and leadership, often confused, especially among children and teens.  Our work with preschoolers (KiddieLead) shows that role play is an early indicator of leadership aptitude.   I applaud these two sisters from Rhode Island who, as Apple Founder Steve Jobs said, want to make a dent in the universe. 

Friendly Fire

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In the organizational behavior class I’m teaching at the Naval Postgraduate School, this week we discussed a Harvard Business Review case study called, Friendly Fire, dealing with a 1993 shooting down of two Black Hawk helicopters carrying 26 US & UN diplomats by two F-15 jets in a safe zone over Iraq.   The “Swiss Cheese” effect came into play, when numerous organizational holes align to produce a catastrophic effect. I thought of the countless number of young leaders who get shot down by their teachers, principals, coaches and parents, who do not understand how young leaders behave and who identify them as enemies, troublemakers, and belligerent adolescents.   The unfortunate result as that we hamstring our very young whom we need to lead, but are set back or turn to the “dark side” because those striving to do good don’t recognize the power of very young social influencers.   I’m sickened by the apathy re: young leader development, all the while we complain about the ca

Global Training Online

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In the last 12 hours, I had appointments with people in Australia, South Africa and Peru.  I don't know what's happening in the southern hemisphere, but they really seem to be interested in young leader development.  My hunch is that they may be a bit hungrier than many of us up north or for some reason, they're aware that leadership training is often wasted on adults.  Regardless, I'm stoked. I'm also excited to announce that we're now going to start doing trainer certification online through live webinars (GoToMeeting) and the use of Skype and webcams for coaching during the minicamps.  My work in distance learning with the Naval Postgraduate School has shown me that with a little tech help, we can connect with people nearly anywhere and offer real time learning.  While we're just getting going, we think this will allow many more people the opportunities to use the world's finest young leader training curricula. 

Wall Street Journal Recognizes KidLead

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Following our press conference, June 26, launching KiddieLead and Lead1st training curricula, several local, regional and national media sources included info on KidLead on their online publications and websites.  This included the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130626-909203.html?mod=googlenews_wsj .  Other mentions came from TV stations and magazines.  We've also been receiving international interest from people in South Africa, Australia, Thailand, India, Dubai, Canada, Peru, Singapore, and Nigeria.  We believe this focus on very young leaders and children in general will be a great way to introduce them to team problem solving and proactive solutions to social problems.  Human nature's knee jerk reaction to trouble can be seen every day in the news, instead of getting ahead of the curve and avoiding challenges by identifying and developing effective leaders.  It's about time for resources like these.    

World Premier

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Next Wed., June 26, at 11AM PT in Silicon Valley, a press conference  will be held to officially announce the launch of the world's first leadership training curricula for 2-9 year olds.  Move over Baby Einstein, KiddieLead (ages 2-5) and Lead1st (ages 6-9), reflect a focus on identifying and developing leaders when they're very, very young.  If you would have told me, 8 years ago, when we began our pioneering work in the realm of preteen leader development, that I'd be focusing on leaders while they're in preschool, I would have scoffed such ignorance.  But today, I believe we're onto one of the most important social finds in history, the ability to identify early bloomers and offer all children an opportunity to experience peer leading, as well as those with natural gifting in this area.  Years ago, Suzuki began teaching the very young how to play the violin.  We've all seen pictures of babies, swimming when dropped into water.  Watch the media in coming w

World's Best Leadership Center

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Last week, I had the opportunity to celebrate my son's and daughter-in-law's graduation from Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC.  So I was thrilled to drive an hour to Greensboro to visit the headquarters of the Center for Creative Leadership, the world's premier leadership research and training organization.  My couple of hours passed quickly, introducing our work at KidLead with the CCL's Leadership Beyond Boundaries team that focuses on less resourced areas, including youth. While CCL has typically focused on higher end, corporate and executive programs, it is expanding its reach to help democratize leadership around the world.  Hopefully we'll find a way to partner on ideas of reaching a new generation to improve society and change the future.  Check them out at www.ccl.org .

Toupees, Dash Covers, & Student Leadership Training

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Life has come full circle.  My middle son just donated his first car back to us since he's upgraded. It's great timing as our youngest heads to a private college in Santa Barbara, CA.  The 2000 Mitsubishi Gallant has a few years left in it, but the dash was cracked, so I purchased a cover.  But now that it's in place, I'm not sure what I like least, the cracks or wrinkly carpet.  The dash cover reminds me of a bad toupee.  When I interact with people who work with youth, who claim to do leadership training, I'm curious as to what they do.  When I'm allowed to observe or review the materials, I nearly always walk away with the same feeling of seeing someone with a bad toupee.  For some reason, people who work with youth tend to confuse student leadership with things such as character development, confidence building, teamwork, and inspiration.  All of these are good, but they're different from actually teaching students how to lead.  KidLead's committ

Kickstarter Project

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"Crowd funding" refers to a new social movement whereby people support entrepreneurial and artistic projects that would otherwise never happen due to a lack of finances.  The big kid on the block in this field is Kickstarter.  This org has approved our KiddieLead Project, to help us raise funds for our leadership training materials for ages 2-9.  Our goal is to raise $27,000 between April 15-May 30, so we can create graphics, illustrations, and materials that include 16 preschool storybooks, 4 early childhood chapter books, 8 activities training manuals, videos and release of our KiddieLead SIS (Social Influence Survey).  What a bargain!  We'd love your help in making this a possibility.  Please click on the KiddieLead Project to learn more, to donate, and/or to pass the word.  We must reach the entire goal of $27,000 in 45 days or we get nothing and no one is charged for their donations.  Plus, there are some very cool rewards for gifts as small as $20, all related t

At Risk Students Vs. Leaders

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I'm frequently asked if our leadership training program is good for at risk students.  I think it's because people who work with at risk kids and teens are always looking for resources that help them help these students.  I applaud that.  But what this tells me is that there's a confusion about what leadership is for children and teens.  People in our culture seem to confuse leadership with other things, such as character, self-esteem, social skills, and performance. Our leadership training resources are just that, about leading.  Being "at risk" is not on our radar.  I'm not trying to be insensitive, just clear.  A leader at risk would certainly benefit from the high calliber of training provided in our curricula and could possibly experience life transformation and avoid becoming a gang leader.  But a non-leader at risk isn't going to become a leader, merely by going through our training program.  We've noticed that those with an aptitude for lea

Early Development & Leadership

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Yesterday I got to meet Gretchen Lester, PhD, who teaches global leadership in the business school at San Jose State University.  She studied under Dr. Bruce Avolio, a pioneer in the field of transformational leadership, where she also met her husband who now does research with the army.  Gretchen's and Bruce's chapter (9) in this book, "Early Development and Leadership," is my most marked up portion of this wonderful volume on academic research, looking at the field of young leader development.  This is the first book on this topic, so I was excited to discover that Dr. Lester lives near Monterey, CA. The first sentence reads, "We take the position in this chapter that most of the strategic efforts to develop leadership probably start too late in the life cycle to optimize the impact on genuine leadership development."  They proceed to offer research and examples of developmental issues and why it makes sense to begin developing our leaders far younger

CADA Convention

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Last week I did workshops and KidLead had a booth at the California Association of Directors of Activities convention in San Diego.  These folk oversee student governments, clubs, and many events in their schools, working with student leaders.  The standing room only workshops on identifying leadership aptitude and coaching student leaders burst with energy.  This was my first time at a CADA event, the largest network of its kind in the world, I believe, and it was truly exciting.  We had over 240 people sign up for more info on LeadNow and LeadWell, which is pretty good out of 1300 attendees.  The big ah-ha for a lot of these people is that although they work with student leaders, they rarely actually take the time to do leadership training.  Another discovery is that many in student government are not leaders; they're popular teens who get elected, but then don't know how to organize their peers.  That's the power of LeadNow and LeadWell is that it focuses on those sk

Directors of Activities

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I'm speaking at CADA this week, California Association of Directors of Activities ( www.cada1.org ). CADA is the largest organization of its kind, a network of people who oversee student government, leadership trianing, and the like.  In one of my workshops, I talked about how to identify students with leadership aptitude, since approx. 50% of student governments consist of students who are popular, but not leaders. One thing I said was, "It's not about programs or events, it's about developing young leaders."  A man came up to me afterward and said, "I've been trying to say that to my peers for 25 years, it's about developing the student."  A lot of school activities directors focus on the planning of homecoming, yearbook, and whatever other events they're charged to "do," but they often overlook what's best for the student.  I love LeadWell training curriculum for teens, because it unleashes them to "do" by helping

CDC & KidLead

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CDC stands for Centers for Disease Control.  Recently I met with the person in charge of anti-bullying at CDC.  Those of us in the USA think of the CDC in terms of infectious diseases, news reports on flu outbreaks, and other epidemic health info.  But low and behold they have an office dealing with bullying, because it's considered a health hazard. My meeting had to do with our findings that student leadership development abates bullying and other negative social behaviors.  We're also talking to ChildFund because they're engaged in this issue globally.  While most bullying programs are about adults telling kids not to pick on each other, the Trojan Horse solution is to identify the social influencers, teach them how to lead positively, and then equip them with anti-bullying tools and ideas.  Seems a no-brainer solution since we're merely tapping a natural process, proactively.  Here's a whiteboard video we produced on the topic.  Click HERE .
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On Saturday morning December 22, 2012, a group of KidLeaders were busy organizing children’s pajamas at the Learning and Loving Education Center (LLEC) in Morgan Hill. The LLEC serves adult immigrant women and their children living in the surrounding low and extremely low-income areas of the community by providing English and computer classes, a daycare and preschool. KidLeaders decided to collect children’s pajamas to give away to the LLEC families for the holidays. At the beginning of December, the KidLeaders had placed collection boxes at their schools, the city’s Recreation Center and the local TJ Maxx. Kidleaders collected 160 pairs of pajamas. The group organized a Pajama Room where the mothers of the families would go to pick out pajamas after they had chosen toys for their children. Over 100 families picked up pajamas that day, with KidLeaders helping the mothers choose pajamas in the size and design that they wanted. Steve Tate, the mayor of Morgan Hill, served as a Ko

Bahamas, Here Comes KidLead

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We are excited to announce that KidLead is coming to the Caribbean.  On Feb. 21-24, 2013, we'll be training staff from Skills Bahamas, a training company in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, to use the LeadYoung curricula.  Skills Bahamas plans to launch this year in their islands country and then expand to the Caribbean.  The Bahamian people are wonderful and they can also offer this training to tourist families on vacation.  We always love to see organizations that focus on adult training, catch the vision for turning attention on leaders while they're moldable.  KidLead welcomes the Bahamas to the growing number of countries around the world, focusing on young leader development.  A new landing page will be on the KidLead website very soon.

Giving Tree: Eaton, Colorado

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The goal of training preteens and teens to be leaders is to improve society. Here’s an example of that. The Eaton (Colorado) community once again found the true meaning of Christmas as the community worked together to pull off an amazing season of giving. The 2012 Giving Tree Project, overseen by Eaton’s KidLead group successfully helped provide Christmas for 64 local families (141 individual children) and 60 apartments at Benjamin Square. For a month and a half the group of 4th-12th grade students worked to complete the project. This year the group really dove into their leadership skills by presenting the project to local business and the Chamber of Commerce asking for help to complete the project. Ninety-nine tags were placed on trees around town and the community responded by buying gifts and items on the tags. The group received everything from clothing to toys- even a couple of bikes, with helmets included. Among the gifts this year KidLead youth busily made 67 fleece tie blan

World's 1st Leadership Book for Preschoolers

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This morning, I'm on my way to be interviewed by a reporter from the Monterey Herald, our local newspaper, who heard about our leadership books for preschoolers.  Last week I got an e-mail from our partner in Dubai, who is very interested in this program as are others.  I'm intrigued by the buzz of the audacious idea that you can begin spotting and developing leaders as young as preschool, as we've had experience more challenging responses from those working with preteen and teens, more logical participants. A funny thing happens as kids get older; parents become less involved.  In the series of seminars we did in Bangkok, most where parents of the very young and one of my favorite couples was pregnant with their first.  How's that for getting a head start?  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the excitement for developing really young leaders, but I sure wish we could get more interest in that strategic period when cognitions are elevated and character is still moldable,