Ever since I attended the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC, I had promised myself that if I ever could, I would give my daughter the gift of leadership development. A gift such as CCL’s LDP is not only costly, but requires some working experience. The feedback intensive program requires input from superiors, peers and subordinates. It would be quite a while before before she would have the experience to even sit for a program such as the LDP. However, I was given the opportunity this month to mentor a group of about 35 teenagers in leadership. A little over a month ago, I received a phone call from my daughter’s youth Pastor. He asked if I could teach the youth group leadership topics during the Sunday school hour over the last three weeks of July. The youth group consists of teens ranging from rising freshmen to graduating seniors. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, but my challenge is how do I keep them interested in information that can sometimes be beyond the understand of some adult learners. So I asked my daughter how I should approach the class. She said, “Dad, keep the language simple so we can understand it and use lot’s of handouts. Teens like that.”
This past Sunday was my first lesson. I titled it “An Introduction to Authentic Leadership.” Since it was for Sunday school, I also had to include Bible verses to support the teachings. As I started to build my PowerPoint presentation, I knew I was going to be in trouble when discussing leadership styles. Some of the details of leadership styles is, quite frankly, tiresome. So I decided to make a game out of it. The strategy worked. The teens stayed engaged, interested and participative for the entire 45 minute session.
I started with a very brief introduction of me and my background in leadership development. Then we played our first game. It was a word association game where I had a volunteer write the class’ responses on the board. The question I asked is, “What’s the first thing that pop’s into your head when you hear the word “leadership?” Their answers were amazingly astute. They said things like control, authority, enthusiasm, love, wise, servant and about another half-dozen responses that I can’t remember right now. But I do recall thinking, these teens are pretty sharp.
We talked about why leadership is important and that each one in the room has the opportunity to develop into highly capable leaders in whatever profession or vocation they pursue. Then we began discussion leadership styles and leadership qualities. I do intend to share what I taught them with you, but for now I’m going to leave those two topics for future posts.
I didn’t have any handouts this past Sunday, but next week is a different story. I’ll be giving them a summary of what we’ve already discussed and some questions to stimulate their thinking. And yes, there may even be a homework assignment to prepare for the third class.