Eight Great Ways to Develop Youth Leaders
Youth leaders are taking our world by storm. The news lately is full of examples of students taking charge, taking matters into their own hands, organizing campaigns to raise awareness of issues, and presenting solutions to longstanding problems. Here at SIG and NSGT, we applaud such efforts as we recognize the needs, as well as the abilities, of our gifted youth to make a difference in the world. We have offered many courses on leadership and problem solving in the past, and this year is no exception. Courses like Solving Global Challenges, Ethical Decisions, Inventioneering, Entrepreneurs with a Cause, and Bioinformatics are just a few of our 2018 courses that help prepare and encourage our future leaders to own and solve problems, and to create positive changes in the world.
In recognition of this newly re-ignited youth leadership movement, it’s a great time to think about what we can do as educators and parents to develop leadership and character in our young people. Will they be ready to inherit our complex world? Effective leadership abilities are dependent on attitudes, interpersonal abilities, knowledge, and goal-attainment skills. Even if your gifted students do not become future leaders, they can become productive contributors to society. Here are a few ways that we can develop students’ leadership and character:
- Help students identify the qualities of a good leader through personal and social examples. Find examples in the news or history of people who appear to demonstrate these qualities and discuss these examples with your students. What qualities of leadership do they also see in themselves?
- Engage your students in understanding the reasons that people are resistant to change. Problem solve ways those problems can be mitigated.
- Discuss the benefits of mistakes and obstacles in developing leadership skills. Find examples in history and apply to the students’ current lives as well.
- Work with your students to understand the importance of setting short- and long-term goals for achieving success. Then create some goals that are meaningful to them.
- Practice effective interpersonal communication as being an important factor in leadership. Use situational leadership scenarios, real and authentic in your practice.
- Evaluate forms of motivational techniques in terms of personal application to good leadership. As an example: discuss the recruitment notice of Sir Ernest Shackleton for his Antarctic journey. Analyze it in terms of recruiting people. Would it attract you?
- Research a leadership model; analyze it in terms of their selected criteria. Ask your students to make improvements on the model or create a new model of their own.
- Analyze local school or community problems requiring leadership and assess their interest in taking on a leadership role in impacting that problem, both now and in the future.
When we focus on developing personal leadership characteristics, we give students confidence as a current or future leader. We want them to understand that they can be effective leaders now, even as a young person. As adults, we can facilitate that growth in many ways, some of which are mentioned above, and we encourage our readers to do so. We look forward to hearing about effective ways that you have encouraged good leadership characteristics in your youth as well.