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Showing posts from 2014

The Smartest Leadership Author I Know

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In 2015, we launch a SheLead audio series involving 10-15 minute interviews with women leaders, thinkers, authors and practitioners. Being a bit of a leadership geek, I collected over 700 books on the subject.  Obviously, there are a large handful, okay, an armful, of books I devoured; provocative and ah-ha celebrations of new thinking. But recently, my favorite author has emerged as Barbara Kellerman.  She's with the Kennedy School at Harvard University.  Her many books on leadership (Google them or do a search on Amazon.com) have challenged my thinking.  Her contrarian attitude combined with a fine mind, results in a lot of pot stirring for those of us steeped in the literature.  You'll hear from Barbara and others in this upcoming series, featured in this blog and the www.shelead.org website.  Look for it and if you want a good read on leadership, try Kellerman.

No More Glass Ceiling for Women

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Although it's 7 years old, I'm reading a powerful book called "Through the Labyrinth" by Eagly and Carli.  In the book they dispel the idea that there now exists a glass ceiling for women leaders, as in the last decade, women made large advances in leadership roles.  Yet, they recognize the challenge most face, replacing the "glass ceiling" metaphor (coined in 1986) for a "labyrinth," a complex maze for gaining influence.   Here are 7 reasons they offer of why the glass ceiling metaphor is misleading* 1. It implies women have equ al access to entry-level positions (they don't always; it's not just a top issue) 2. It assumes an absolute barrier at a specific high level, whereas it varies in organizations 3. It suggests barriers to women are difficult to detect and unforeseen (quite often you can identify them) 4. It assumes a single, homogeneous barrier, ignoring the complexity and variety of obstacles women leaders face 5. It fails

Female Leaders & the Human Economy

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As Bob Dylan sang, "The times, they are a changin'." So how does that resonate with new economies?  During the industrial age, it was commerce based on resources, widgets, factories and raw materials.  Then dawned the information age, where knowledge became the trump card for what drove the economy, jobs, and demand.  But according to Harvard, we may be moving into a new realm where research shows women hold an edge on us guys... the human economy.  While I'm not prone to quote long passages from others, following is an excerpt from a robust HBR blog you might enjoy, followed by a link of the article. The management community knows on some deep level that humanity is important to enterprise success. In hiring, a   recent study   of over 1,000 CEOs indicates that above all they seek candidates who are “collaborative, communicative, creative, and flexible.” (Contrast this with the Knowledge Economy’s premium on sheer intellect.) A recent study entitled “ Only Huma

Bossy Girls Often Become Great Bosses

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Lieutenant Commander Krysten J. Ellis was among an elite group of women, selected to be the first to serve on US Naval submarines.  She combines a unique blend of smarts, emotional intelligence, and strong leadership.  While her leadership abilities are paying off now in her military career, she didn't always receive that kind of affirmation.  Here's another example of a female leader who was mislabeled as a child, in her own words: As a young girl, I was frequently told, "You're too bossy!" The characteristic has served me well in many respects, but could have transformed into what it really meant: a valuable leadership skill. With a program like SheLead, vice years of muddling through it on my own, this trait could have been well-honed much earlier, without negative connotation or the second guessing I put myself through. Let young women be known for what they are, not bossy, but assertive leaders. Krysten Ellis, LCDR, SC, USN (LCDR Ellis meets POTUS, p

Training Leader Kids Improves Adult Leaders

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Most adults know that when you have to teach something, you actually learn that skill or content at a higher level yourself.  The same is true in the area of leadership.  I just got off the phone with Nina Lewis, a KidLead Trainer in Eaton, CO, thanking me for introducing her to KidLead. "The irony (or not), is that I've learned so much more about leadership myself, while teaching our students," she said.  "I've applied the nuances of working as a team, recognizing the differences of team members, and organizing toward a task, that I'm a better leader myself."  Obviously she is, because Eaton, a small town east of Fort Collins, just passed a local bill to fund a $25,000,000 community center.  Nina was 1 of 5 board members on a committee of 30.  The bill passed first time on the public ballot.  While KidLead was originally designed to identify and develop young executives ages 10 and up, the other benefits continue to surprise us, including how teac

Why Girls Schools Develop Leaders Better (Without Even Trying)

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I recently met with progressive all-girls schools in the DC area, such as Georgetown Visitation Prep, National Cathedral, and Connelly School of the Holy Child.  While these schools are genuinely interested in developing female student leaders, even those that aren't tend to do a better job than co-ed schools; here's why.  During teen years, both females and males begin the biological mating ritual.  While most hope the culmination of this process postpones til marriage, ultimately the social behaviors of flirting, gaining attention of the opposite gender, and attraction, impact the leadership development of many teen women in that they tend to defer to the males, especially leader-type males.  Thus, just when female leaders are gaining confidence to unveil true leader prowess, they pull back so as not to intimidate males or compete with them organizationally.  Thus, those in all-girl environs tend to see higher leadership aptitude students emerge more naturally, where they

Women & Nonverbal Power

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After returning from a brisk trip to Washington DC, to meet with some all-girls schools there, introducing them to SheLead, I'm reminded about the importance of helping teen women embrace their power.   There's a lot being studied in terms of how women present themselves as powerful and submissive (powerless).  In a 20-minute TED Talk, researcher Amy Cuddy offers some very practical ideas on how we all can improve our non-verbal communication, for presenting, interacting, and making ourselves appear more powerful than we feel at times.   Click HERE to watch. 

Malala & SheLead

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Beginning this week, our weekly KidLead blog will primarily be dedicated to SheLead topics, related to identifying and developing young female leaders.  While we'll continue to sprinkle our blogs with content related to young leaders in general, we specifically want to emphasize the cultural and global need for more and better female leaders. On the day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the 17 year old from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, we're putting our "stake in the ground" to raise up a whole new generation of leaders, as never seen in history.  While we admire all young leaders, we realize that the disservice women have and still experience today not only hurts them, but the many organizations and cultures that need what they have to offer.  Click HERE for info on Malala's Peace Prize announcement.   Follow SheLead.org Tweets @she_org.

Girls Scouts

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A few days ago, I had the opportunity to meet with staff members of Girl Scouts Los Angeles and Orange County.  With 3 grown sons, we never experienced this truly amazing organization, dedicated to growing great women.   We were introducing our SheLead program, to see how we might help them take their leadership training to the next level, primarily with their 10-17 year olds who display an exceptional ability to influence others, who'd be ready for their "Executive Badge."   We applaud organizations, committed to raising great people, especially those who are also open to new ideas, research, and opportunities to get even better.  Human nature, being what it is, keeps us focused on what we're doing instead of getting better.  We hope we can assist Girl Scouts in developing some of the finest women leaders the world has yet to see. 

LeadYoung Monterey Pioneer

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Elisa Tacconi is the Principal of a charter school in Monterey, CA.  She just got trained as a LeadYoung Trainer, bringing LeadNow for preteens to her school, beginning this fall.  I always get excited when I meet people like Elisa, because she possess a treasure chest of experience and wisdom, but is open to new ideas.  Plus, as a leader herself, she sees the benefit of being the lead trainer of the student leaders in her school.  If I had elementary-aged kids, I'd want them at her school.  I've said it before, but I'm dumbfounded that so many teachers aren't learners.  They stick to what they know and they teach it over and over, suspicious of new thinking and embracing ideas that lie outside of the way they've always done things.  People like Elisa get it, realizing that if we always do what we've always done, we won't get ahead.  So it doesn't matter whether you're in a high end private school or struggling in the 'hood, being a leader in

Needed New Business Schools

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Last week, I began teaching two more classes at the Naval Postgraduate School; one on organizational behavior and the other on communication for managers, both part of the MBA program.   Our students include up and coming US military officers and from other countries. I'm truly honored to be associated with NPS, which has graduated more military officers (and astronauts) than any other.  At the same time, I constantly wonder about the size of gap between academia and the real world, which is the essence behind our work with KidLead, identifying and developing leaders from the ground up, who can skillfully change the orgs where they lead. Following is an HBR blog that talks about the current condition of business schools and suggests ideas for transformation.  It's especially impressive, because it is written by a dean of two B-schools.  Kudos also to Harvard for publishing it on its blog.  Strong leaders are open to critique and getting better.  Enjoy:  http://blogs.hbr.org/2

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

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Okay, I know I'm on a roll, but during my immersion into the world of SheLead and young female leadership development, I've been reading dozens of books and research articles, like Dr. Frankel's book. My wife and I both read it and were a bit surprised at the number of subtle and even subliminal ways that women tend to sabotage their own leadership, without realizing it.  (BTW, the idea of "Nice Girls" refers to women acting out stereotyped roles from childhood, as opposed to you can't be "nice" and be an effective leader.) While the list of 101 things did get a bit long at times, most of these are helpful for women leaders to understand how they can better impact society and make a difference in the organizations they serve. Obviously, a list this long implies only certain ones may apply to you, but focus on "your" half dozen that you want to avoid. As a male leader, reading this list, I found myself a bit embarrassed at the way societ

Women Lead the Way

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Another great book for women who want to expand their leadership influence and for men who want to help them, is "Women Lead the Way."  One of the basic goals of the author, based also on a United Nations declaration, is to see leadership in organizations that consist of 30% women.  Obviously, this is still a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) for many organizations and cultures, but it would likely creating a tipping point, when people began to recognize the quality leadership that women can bring to society. Naturally, just being a woman doesn't make you bad or good.  There will continue to be effective and ineffective, ethical and unethical leaders, regardless of gender, age or culture.  What this book helps people like me understand, is the unique strengths that women leaders bring to society and, as I've been stating in this blog recently, why 21st century society needs these now more than ever.  That's why we need to equip women with tools and resources to

21st Century Skills YOUR Kids Need

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Imagine using a car, phone, or pretty much any machine that was designed in the early 1900s.  Yet, the typical school in America has changed little in terms of deliverables, since it's emergence last century.  Yet, so much in society has changed... such as digital information, internet, global village, and the proliferation of technology.  That means we need to be equipping our students with skill sets that weren't a necessity, 10-50 years ago.  These include critical thinking, collaboration, communication (that's been around forever), creativity and leadership.  That's the 6-sentence summary of this book, "21st Century Skills." What is exciting about the otherwise depressing scenario of modern education, is that a growing number of schools are getting it and cutting edge programs like KidLead are addressing these issues.  LeadYoung Training Systems, active-learning curricula, are designed to offer 21st century skills to the social influencers who'll b

Closing the Leadership Gap

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I just read a great book, "Closing the Leadership Gap," by Marie C. Wilson, who founded "The White House Project," a non-profit that tried to help women in leadership with the ultimate goal of seeing one in the White House.  Although the org is now defunct, the contents of the book are not.  I was aghast as I read, with my male leader eyes, the numerous times we've minimized the role of women leaders. What I'm enjoying about my immersion into the world of books and research on gender differences in leadership is that most are truly focused on elevating the role of women as opposed to bashing men or alienating those of us who understand the assets women leaders bring... as women.  Someday, we won't use "woman" as an adjective to denote a leader who's a female; simply good or bad, effective or ineffective, ethical or unethical.  Until then, I'm a fan of what women bring to the realm of leadership in the 21st century and if the number

The End of Leadership

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One of the best books I've read recently is Barbara Kellerman's, "The End of Leadership."  While it may not interest a large population, those of us in the leadership development movement will likely be a bit shaken by her scathing predictions.  Kellerman, a professor at Harvard's respected Kennedy School of Government, offers a powerful overview of the leadership development industry and its current inability to significantly improve the lot of effective and ethical leading.  I enjoyed corresponding with Barbara, after underlining so much content and realizing that my midlife transition toward getting to leaders while they're moldable vs. moldy is a summation that the leadership industry, while popular and powerful, isn't doing its job. While the US alone invests an estimated $5 billion (yes, that's with a "B") annually in leadership development, the evolution of society has transcended most books and programs.  Although my own doctoral

LeadYoung Training Systems & Stedman Graham

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This week, I had another opportunity to talk to Stedman Graham. His work with youth in helping them develop their identify is significant.  For more on his program, click HERE . Stedman suggested that we consider taking our work with KidLead to a for-profit strategy.  The reason is that people often do not value what they get at discounted prices and it also elevates the likelihood of propagating our work.  Although we've been considering this for several years, we've now decided to do just that, turn KidLead into a business venture to reward people for identifying and developing young leaders.  While KidLead Inc (non-profit) will continue for less resourced children and youth, we are actively developing a business model that will allow us to introduce LeadYoung Training Systems as a means to develop young leaders and reward those who do.  Thanks, Stedman!

New Book & Gallup Comments on Management In-efficacy

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Mark Crowley, author of a new book, "Lead from the Heart," interviewed the primary researcher of a Gallup poll on job satisfaction (Harter).  " According to Harter, the source of the world’s engagement problem is und eniably clear.    Organizations aren’t putting the right people into managerial positions.   “People get into management based on all of the wrong factors.   Typically, it’s because they were successful in a previous job unrelated to management, or they had long tenure in the company and got rewarded for that.   But neither of those two things relate to the talents people need to effectively lead others.   That kind of misalignment has become a hug problem in the world.” Crowley goes onto quote, in his interview that “For anyone excelling as a leader today, you should know that your effectiveness is uncommon.  According to Gallup’s analysis, at least two-thirds of all people in supervisory roles today lack the requisite skillset.  More significantly, G

KidLead's Golden Circle

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Simon Sinek's concept of "The Golden Circle" expresses how visionary leaders and companies differ from the majority.  They start with the "Why," move to the "How" and then result in the "What."  Most orgs focus on "what" we produce, whether computers, widgets or service.  They move from the outside toward the center (as seen in the graphic.  But break out orgs work from the inside to the outside. KidLead has always been about the "Why;" we want to change the world, to make it better by developing a superior leader because leaders are the ones who make history.  "How" we do this is by identifying leaders while they're moldable and giving them a 10-30 year head start on traditional leadership development training.  The "What" are curricula that people can use in their schools, faith communities and civic groups, economically and empowering scores of leaders to be developed, not just a privileged

SheLead Link to Facebook COO

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In case you're like me, passing up the book to watch the movie, here's a video of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, presenting her talk at the TED Talk conference in 2010. Sheryl notes the cultural challenge of women finding their place in leadership roles.  That's what SheLead strives to do, but 10-30 years in advance.   Click HERE for the video link.

R U a Multiplier or a Diminisher

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I'm reading a book called "The Multiplier Effect."  It deals with the way school leaders often overlook the latent potential in their schools.  The book is a sequel to "The Multipliers."  Diminishers are smart leaders who get things done, but they tend to reduce the ability of others because they do so much themselves or intimidate others with their great talent or genius.  Multipliers are those who bring out the best in people and thus create a much stronger synergy in helping people work together.  By potlucking their abilities, they outperform the Diminishers, especially when we're trying to get more from less these days. In the context of young leader development, we often behave as Diminishers in schools, homes, faith communities and culture in general.  As adults we act like we have all the experience, talent, and ability, while failing to develop the potential of our young leaders as a result. Click HERE for the blog referring to Liz Wiseman'

Leaders Helps Teams Achieve More

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Teams outperform individuals in most things. Many youth programs called "leadership" really just talk about team work, helping youth accomplishing things on teams.  But true leadership training is helping teams achieve more. That's what leaders do, they catalyze teams to get better. I recently saw an ad campaign to encourage people to ride the bus, but with a little tweaking, you can see the role of leaders in the clips, catalyzing the team to work together to accomplish what they could not as individuals. Click HERE to watch the creative vids.

Are You Training Your Kid to be a Boss or Worker?

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I'm a bit surprised that so many parents invest countless hours and dollars into skills and things that will not necessarily benefit their children over a lifetime.  One area that is often overlooked is leadership development.  We hope our kids will become leaders, someday, but we do little to intentionally train them how to lead, now. A 2014 Pew Research project* compared satisfaction levels in bosses vs. workers. Naturally, we know all bosses aren't leaders, but the findings reflect what most of us sense intuitively that leaders feel more satisfied in life, work and with their pay.  These would seem to be things that we'd want for our kids, so helping them develop their leadership potential while they're pliable would seem a no-brainer.  Still, we appear more interested in things like sports, endless academic exercises, and entertainment.  We all know smart people with degrees who can't lead, so if a child has leadership potential, why not develop it along wit

Women Make Great Leaders

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As we roll out our leadership training curriculum for young female leaders, I'm encouraged to see how women leaders are rising in efficacy. In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, some statistics demonstrated that female leaders were better liked as leaders. Based on over 7000 leaders surveyed, 57% of male leaders were deemed effective, but 67% of women leaders were. Obviously this is a broad brush stroke, but the survey broke down the results in more refined ways.  Needless to say, a new day is dawning for female leaders.  KidLead is proud to be a part of this movement. Click HERE to read the blog.

SheLead Unveiled

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Well, it's here, the new SheLead training curricula.  We've jazzed it up a bit, to reflect a more feminine yet strong approach to leading.  The four modules for both preteens and young adults at Lime, Raspberry, Grape, and Tangerine.  Lime and Raspberry modules are now available. One thing we know about most women leaders, is that they're passionate about developing young female leaders.  Perhaps it's because they relate to the struggles they've experienced or just a desire to give their sisters a head start.  We are excited about the warm reception this idea is receiving, around the world.  We believe it is truly a game-changer.

Amazing Kindergarten Leaders

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Amazing, just amazing; that's what I walked away feeling, after observing Laurie Vroom and Tammy Phillips run a leadership activity for 5 & 6 year olds at our design school partner in Silicon Valley.  Mrs. Vroom and Mrs. Phillips are consummate pros when it comes to teaching, but they also understand the social dynamics of organizational leadership, even at the Kindergarten level. These two teachers took their students through a leadership training activity on communication, designating a team leader, charged with creating a paper collage.  As I observed, Laurie and Tammy whispered subtle cues to the team leaders, beside whom they sat.  One student was a more natural leader and the other a more reticent one, but both teams accomplished their goals.  Then the teachers debriefed the activity with everyone, closing as they began, with a song about leaders listening and speaking.  I couldn't keep from smiling as I watched these two pros apply leadership training with studen

What's Your Team's IQ?

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Most of us are familiar with individual Intelligence Quotients (IQ), typically measured as the ability to accomplish a variety of cognitive tasks at a certain rate and effectiveness.  But did you know that groups possess a cumulative IQ?  Research published in Science magazine (Oct. 29, 2010) notes that team IQ, being higher than individual IQs, also varies from group to group.  The hypothesis is that it is easier to improve group IQ than individual IQ. If the role of a leader is to help a team achieve more, then it makes sense that an effective leader can in turn increase the team's IQ.  Our belief is that by teaching kids to do this at a young age, we can help them improve their effectiveness as adults, because they'll have decades of more experience and will begin to consciously and subconsciously recognize best practice team development skills.  To read more about the article mentioned above, click HERE .

Increasing Positive Behavior (PBIS): A Talk With Dr. Horner

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Last week, I had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Dr. Rob Horner, renown for his work with Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) and a global expert on educational improvement by focusing on social culture.  His ideas as well as his demeanor, impressed me.  (If you want to know more about this work, go to www.pbis.org.) While PBIS is decades in development, showing how social culture impacts academics and teaching outcomes, it is just now making big headway in the US.  Yet, most of the impetus remains on teaching everyone (all students and teachers) about a handful of values that are essential to sustaining a safe and respectful environ.  What is missing is the role of young influencers, those 2-4 students in each classroom who convey more influence than the rest.  They seem to be missing from the research.  Yet, when you look at social reform among adults throughout history, you always note the leaders (Lincoln, King, Chavez, Ghandi).  This blind spot is a cult

Divergents: Developing Them

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The new blockbuster film, "Divergent," is a pretty amazing film when you view it through a leadership lens.  Imagine a world with factions, people groups conforming to distinct roles, based on their personalities and strengths.  It's a theatrical adaptation to real life.  It's a movie about compliance, fitting in and the social tendency to reject those who resist.  I'm reminded how many young leaders feel in schools where their push-back is perceived as rebelliousness and their influence is punished.  Leaders are Divergent. The leading actress is Shailene Woodley, playing the part of a 16-year-old who, discovering she's Divergent, tries to play the part of another faction member, but can't seem to hide her true self.  While I don't want to let out too much of the plot for those who've not yet seen it, the bottom line is that this young leader ends up playing a significant part in fighting evil and standing for what is right.  The fact the she&#

Navy Seals & Young Leader Development

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This morning I met with a couple of people to discuss the launch of SheLead, a leadership training curriculum we're offering for women to train young women, ages 10-25. The excitement was evident, so we have high hopes for the possibilities. In the afternoon I met at the Naval Postgraduate School to discuss a research project I've been asked to participate in, looking at the role of women in the Navy SEALs.  In 2016, women will be allowed into combat roles in the US military.  We discussed an array of issues related to what would need to transpire for women to find places in this men-only context.  Whether its church, politics, business or the military, the role of women in leadership roles is changing. We're excited to be a part of this emerging social trend and happy to be providing the world's first organizational training program for young female leaders. 

Leaning In: Women in Leadership

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Great book; read it.  Facebook's COO describes the highs and lows of striving to lead as a woman.  Just as KidLead co-founder and my wife, Nancy, has experienced decades of leadership challenges as a woman, Sheryl recognizes that the playing field is not level. That's why KidLead is proud to announce SheLead, an experiential curriculum designed for 10-14 year olds and 14-25 year olds, whereby women can take young female leaders through a variety of project-based learning activities, teaching them leadership skills.   What makes this program unique is that it's modeled after executive training, but age-sized to get to leaders while they're moldable.  When women use this with preteens and teens, they intuitively teach it in such a way that the powerful sisterhood of female leaders emerges.  Click HERE for more info on SheLead and how you can be certified to use it.

The Power of Classroom Leaders

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I just talked to a workout colleague who is looking for a teaching position.  Right now, she's substitute teaching.  She shared some of her "challenges" in walking into a classroom, noting how 3-4 students tend to "run the show."  I remember my sub teaching experiences years ago.  I understood her pain.   Every educator recognizes the unique social dynamics, whereby a few students possess a majority of the social influence.  KidLead is about identifying these students and providing hands-on, active-learning curricula to transform them into positive leaders, creating allies of teachers who elevate positive behaviors in schools, faith communities and neighborhoods.  Instead of fighting this natural, social energy, we want to tap it for good!

6 Year Old Leader

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Most cultures consider leading an adult behavior.  We say things such as "some day you'll be a leader."  The problem is that we wait far too long to develop our leaders.  Take 6-year-old Karissa for example.  Her mother, Dr. Frances Wu, is a professor in Southern California who grew up in China.  Frances recognizes Karissa's strengths and often the challenges that go with raising a leader in the home.  But instead of cursing these strengths, she's now nursing them, developing them as she parents. For instance, Karissa wants to talk to her Kindergarten teacher about doing KiddieLead in her class.  She's already identified 10 classmates who she believes should be in the club.  She's been watching the instructional video we provide for Trainers (Dr. Wu is a new Trainer).  What causes a child, so young, to be so passionate about leading and learning how to lead: destiny, wiring, genetics, aptitude, social intelligence? We're not sure, but no doubt, som

CIA & KidLead

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KidLead did a booth at Monterey Institute of International Studies (www.miis.edu) job fair.Our space was just a few feet away from the CIA, FBI and NSA tables.  Interesting how we're positioned to proactively identify and develop effective and ethical leaders as kids and youth, while so much attention gets placed on monitoring evil leaders as adults. While we certainly need these agencies, they symbolize the need to think differently about how we develop leaders.  Organic approaches will always result in needing to circumvent evil leaders.  Intentional and strategic approaches like KidLead strive to develop a more positive breed of social influencers. Until that happens, chances are we'll continue to need to co-exist. 

SheLead: Empowering Young Women Leaders

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"Spoiler Alert!"  That's what NBC newscasters have been saying during the Winter Olympics, as they prep to announce medal results prior to actually broadcasting the time-delayed events.  Well, in our small way, this is a bit of a spoiler alert or even a teaser. Over the years, we've become very aware of the historical resistance to developing women leaders, let alone young ones.  Nancy, my wife, attests to that, even though John Maxwell hired her as part of his leadership team at the ripe old age of 25.  So we're about to announce the start of a new LeadYoung Training Systems program called SheLead.  We're reformatting our LeadNow and LeadWell curricula into a woman-leader-to-young-female-leader program that will be available for schools, civic groups, and faith communities to use in identifying and developing young women leaders.  It's our attempt to help make up for what's been a long time problem. Look for it in the coming days! 

Little Leadership Steps

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This year's winter Olympics seem to have much better commercials than the hyped Superbowl promos.  I'm especially moved by TD Ameritrade's theme of Big Moments consisting of Little Steps.  Whenever I see these, I think of leaders.  Imagine being able to take the life of a great leader and creating a collage of little steps.  That's what KidLead's about, developing the potential in leaders while they're moldable and offering repetitive practice so that they can become great over time.   Here's a link to what I'm talking about.  Click  HERE  to see Noelle Pikus Pace's story.

Fake Leaders

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So I'm sitting in Starbucks when this teen walks in with a duck. It caught my attention through the barista's glass divider.  I didn't know if he was doing an AFLAC promotion or what.  But through the laughter of customers I realized the duck was a puppet.  It got me thinking about leaders.   There are a lot of fake leaders out there, people who hold positions of authority, but who really don't know how to lead. They lack vision, fail to organize people, and pursue status quo.  At the same time, there's a lot of fake leadership training out there, books, programs, and events that are called leadership, but that teach any number of other things such as good citizenship, character, service, and self-esteem. People often refer to these things as if they are leadership, but at the end of the day, much like the duck, they don't teach us what leaders do differently than non-leaders and they don't distinguish what it means to help people accomplish together, wh

Do Classrooms Kill Leadership Development?

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A couple times a year, we wake up to see a large cruise ship in the Monterey Bay. Although blown up a bit, this picture is from my office in our town home.  Usually, the bay sports an array of private boats, a few fishing vessels, and whale watching ships.  But when the cruise ship shows up, it's like a row boat in your bath tub... huge.   Most school classrooms have 2-3 students who offer more "presence" than the rest. They stand out in terms of their social influence.  The problem is that most schools ignore them, treating them like every other child, ignoring their sizable leadership potential.  In this TED Talk video (19 min.), Sir Ken Robinson expresses his concern on how schools kill creativity.  Similarly, schools tend to kill leadership development.  Join over 25 million people who've watched this 20-minute commentary.  Click HERE .

What We Call Classroom Leaders

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The last few weeks, I've been meeting with numerous school principals and superintendents in Monterey County, introducing our local impetus on positive behavior in school via developing the natural social influencers. Most of the people I talk to readily know the type of students I'm referring to, and they've even volunteered their own adjectives to describe them.  A few are listed in this Wordle.  It's interesting that a majority of the terms tend to be somewhat negative.  Perhaps it's because in cultures valuing conformity, leaders stand out, a bit like stubbing your toe on a carpet nail.  I'm pleasantly delighted that most of the local school leaders with whom I'm meeting understand the inequity of social influence and concur with the strategy of getting to these catalysts to benefit the rest.

What Seals Taught Me About Leading

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A few days ago, my wife and I were taking our weekly walk along the Carmel coast, from Pebble Beach to Monastery Beach.  We saw something we'd not seen before, a pod of several dozen seals, frantically swimming together near the sand. They appeared to be in a kind of feeding frenzy in the kelp.   No doubt, this pod had individual seals that led the others to this area and provided directions on how to behave, what to do.  Even in the animal kingdom, leaders exist, helping the team function effectively. I wonder when this begins, how early in a seal's life does leading behavior emerge?  I'm not a marine biologist, but I do know that young human leaders emerge much earlier than most perceive.  It's getting the older ones to recognize and develop them; that's the trick.

How to Prevent Hitlers

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Recently I read a book called "Contagious," that explains why some messages get repeated and others do not.  In order to implement my learning, we created a banner for our website, to note how KidLead curricula are a proactive means for eradicating bad leaders (see above).  A customer alerted us about his shock and disdain that we'd connect Hitler with KidLead (even if it was negative).  We quickly explained why and replaced the banner with a Gandhi pic, not wanting to relate a corrupt icon with our work. Regardless, so much of our culture is reactionary, upset about bad leading and leaders while doing very little to remove the problem at the root.  I grew up on an Iowa farm and my chores included chopping down thistles.  One day, my dad noticed how quickly I removed them, but realized I'd been cutting them down at the stem, a visual quick fix.  He said, "No, to get rid of a thistle you need to place your shovel below the ground at the root, and then cut i

Student Leadership to Launch in Australia

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Paul Zyntek visited us from Perth, Australia. He works with children there, heard about KidLead from an internet search, and became certified to use LeadNow curriculum through webinars and live Skype coaching. Recently, on a trip to a conference in Florida, he dropped by to spend a couple of days with us here in Monterey. What I love about Paul's attitude is his desire to try new things and make a difference.  As a 29-year old, he's decided to focus on identifying and developing social influencers. That two decades sooner than I committed to make it my primary passion.  I'm jealous he's beginning so young. We're thrilled to know Paul as an independent trainer, who'll be introducing "the world down under" to cutting edge strategies for bringing about social change.  

R U a Teacher or Learner?

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Recently I met with Craig Beller, the principal of Forest Grove Elementary School in Pacific Grove, CA.  I am always delighted when I meet educators like Craig, because he's seasoned, savvy and understands the big picture.  As I introduced LeadYoung Monterey's impetus on helping schools develop school wide positive support (SWPBS) and resulting benefits toward learning environments, he readily appreciated the larger schema of developing the whole student.   The longer I interact with educators, the more surprised I am of how many seem committed to teaching, but not learning.  A majority appears dedicated to perpetuating status quo, bearing down on required academics with tunnel vision.  The attitude of not being open to new ideas seems antithetical to the concept of learning.  The question I'm prone to ask is, "Are you a teacher or a learner?"  I'm far more interested in learning from a learner than merely a teacher.  I celebrate when I meet educators like

Leadership Development & Corporate Social Responsibility

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Last week I met with Margaret D'Arrigo, the community involvement person at Taylor Farms, a giant ag producer in the Salinas Valley.  I was so delighted to experience the caliber of people like Margaret who as leader, mother, and employee, understands the impact that identifying and developing young leaders can make. Taylor Farms is an example of a corporation that "gets" CSR: corporate social responsibility.  Their give-back value of investing in the community displays that business is more than making money.  Developing a strong local infrastructure is good for the bottom line.  Leaders like Margaret and Bruce Taylor see the value of investing in young leader development, a priority we obviously applaud.

Top Schools Value Leadership Development

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Harker School in Silicon Valley is considered by many to be the finest school in northern California and certainly one of the best in the country.  Tuition at this private institution is...well, let's just say high-end.  But what makes Harker great is not just the high caliber staff, students, and alumni, but its impetus on the whole student.   That's why it's no surprise that they take student leadership development seriously. Greg Lawson, second in command at the school, caught the vision of using LeadNow training curriculum for upper elementary and middle school students, at the beginning of KidLead's introduction of the curriculum.  Click HERE for an article published in the school's quarterly magazine.

How Leaders Inspire Us

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One of the most difficult leadership skills to teach is "vision."  It's one of the 16 leader qualities we focus on in our LeadYoung Training Systems curricula, for ages 2-25. The reason it is so difficult to teach is because it is the most intuitive of the key qualities.  Leaders who "get" the vision concept do so typically without thinking about it.  But Simon Sinek does a good job explaining why leaders are good at motivating us.  In doing so, he helps would-be leaders embrace this most elusive vision-casting skill.  In this TED Talk presentation, he gets at the essence of understanding why people follow leaders a lot more than managers.   Click HERE to watch the 18-minute TED Talk.

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

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In our work with schools the last 8 years while researching, piloting and selling student leadership development training, I've had plenty of opportunities to interact with administrators, teachers, students and parents.  In addition to our own parenting experiences, I've come to the conclusion that most schools are leader adverse.  In other words, they tend to diminish a student's leadership potential by valuing conformity and labeling young leaders as trouble makers and class disruptions (which they can be if not handled effectively).   In this TED Talk YouTube video, Sir Ken Robinson looks at the issue of schools and creativity.  There are a lot of similarities between creativity and leadership in terms of school environs, even though they are somewhat different talents and skills.  Click here for Ken's 20-minute presentation.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

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There are 2 general categories of leaders, those who develop people and those who develop other leaders. The latter is what we refer to as exponential leaders, because when you lead others who lead, you maximize your time and energy.  Over the years, I've found that most people who lead want to do leadership training, but generally they run out of tools.  As a result, leadership training turns out to be handing someone a book, hiring a pricey trainer or sending people to expensive conferences.  The task is even more daunting for young leader who tend to lack confidence, experience and therefore content from which to draw. Wouldn't it be great if you could take a few minutes during staff meetings and retreats, to offer live, economical training on various aspects of leading?  That's why we created a new resource for 19-25 year olds (that can be used by all ages) called Leader Lessons.  This 8.5x11 manual includes 50 lessons with reproducible handout pages and teaching i

John Maxwell on 5 Levels of Leadership

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Right after graduate school my wife, Nancy, was hired by leadership guru, John C. Maxwell.  I remember having several opportunities as a young guy, talking with John, one on one.  I even bartered driving him places, in exchange for some mentoring time. Here's a link to a YouTube clip of John's talk on the 5 Levels of Leadership ( CLICK ).  It's classic Maxwell. Finding leader mentors is an important process we teach in LeadStrong, our program for 19-25 year olds.  The problem is that older leaders tend to be so busy and young leaders lack confidence or know-how in finding mentors. A new book offers inspiration for young leaders as well as older ones, looking for proteges.  The title is "What I Wish I'd Known About Leadership." Check it out on Amazon.com by clicking HERE .