Expectations And Best Practices
Young leaders can be see in the Bible, such as Jesus teaching in
the temple, David’s childhood selection as the future king and
subsequent victory over Goliath, and Joseph vision casting in front
of his brothers, to his own demise. Most cultures expect more from
their preteens and teens and often see it as a result. The
Pygmalion concept holds true, especially in leadership development
that we strive to become as we are treated. When we begin to see
and treat our preteens as leaders, they tend to rise to the
occasion and exhibit behavior that appears to be “beyond their
years,” when in reality it was lying dormant until someone or
something catalyzed it’s growth.
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In our work with preteens, we’ve seen that younger leaders, ages
10-11, learn faster when mixed with 12-13 year olds. They gain
confidence from seeing their older colleagues in action. While some
preteen experts suggest separating boys from girls, we found that
combining them on teams also improves learning effectiveness. It
also reflects a more true-to-life situation where they’ll have to
work with each other in years to come.
While coaching young leaders, one of the biggest temptations is
to get involved in the “doing” of the task then standing back as a
leader and helping the team members to stay organized and engaged.
Reminding designated leaders that their job is to help everyone
work together and affirm what is going well is a consistent
coaching priority for adults. Another early skill to nurture is
gathering ideas from team members before making a decision. Adults
can coax this out of kids by helping them brainstorm ideas as a
group, before a designated leader leads, in order to provide him or
her with possible ideas.
Adults, on the other hand, usually need to be coached not to
provide answers or quick solutions, letting kids come up with their
own solutions in problem solving and then letting them experiment
with their plans. They also need to ask more than tell, limiting
talk time to 25%. Kids begin by expecting adults to dominate
activities, but seen learn confidence when allowed to lead.