When it comes to raising our kids, we want practical tools — stuff that we can actually put on our to do list. But we don’t just want busy work. We want realistic strategies that get results.
Grooming our kids to be leaders is high on our list (Jody and I, that is), but we were surprised to find out that it wasn’t for a lot of other parents. When we first started our radio show, our tagline was “Raising Leaders from Cradle to College and Parenting With the End Result in Mind.” But after about a year, we changed it because we found out that so many parents don’t think of their kids as leaders or even as potential leaders. We heard things like, “Oh my son isn’t really cut out for leadership. He’s not going into politics or anything. He won’t be a CEO.”
Running for office and running a company are definitely leadership roles, but so is being a foreman on a construction crew or the board member of a homeowner’s association or even a dad (he’s the leader of a household). Okay, so maybe kids can’t relate to those kind of leadership roles yet, but what about running a successful YouTube channel or being a popular Viner? Most middle and high schoolers can totally connect with that, but they may not see them as leadership roles. Young people like NigaHiga, Tobuscus, Alx James and Nash Grier are shaping the culture from the camera lens of their iPhones. They are leaders because they influencers.
But when we hear people talk about leadership development, especially when it’s geared toward kids, most of what we find is rhetoric — theory. We hear words like “Explore. Create. Connect. Inspire.” What does that look like in real life?
The Girl Factor
This conversation is especially important for girls. Even if you just look at the list of YouTubers and Viners that I listed above — all boys. There are some popular girls out there, but a fraction of the boys, which makes no sense statistically. Take a look at some stats from Women Moving Millions.
Females make up 51% of the population, but
- they hold less than 20% of public offices;
- make up only 15.7% of Fortune 500 boards of directors (less than 10% of California tech company boards and 9.1% of Silicon Valley boards)
and only 7% of Hollywood Directors.
- Women work two thirds of the world’s working hours, and they produce half of the world’s food, but they earn only 10% of the world’s income, and they own less than 1% of the world’s property.
We are raising the next generation of women, and we need to make some changes about how we are training them. Here’s just a few reasons why:
- Globally, women control nearly $12 trillion of the overall $18.4 trillion in consumer discretionary spending. And it’s estimated that by 2028, women will control nearly 75% of consumer discretionary spending worldwide.
- In nearly 90% of high net worth households in the US, women are either the sole decision-maker or an equal partner in decisions about charitable giving.
- Women now account for 21.7% of directors serving on the boards of the largest banks in Europe, compared to financial institutions in the Americas averaging 16.7% and those in Asia-Pacific at only 10.9%.
- Women make up 58% of college undergraduates in the US, with some campuses at 70%.
- Statistics show that in countries where more women are in political office, there is less corruption, even in countries with the same income, civil liberties, education and legal institutions.
- In the United States women are more likely than men to graduate from college, are running more than 10 million businesses with combined annual sales of $1.1 trillion, and are responsible for making 80% of consumer buying decisions like when they decide on buying a car, but if you you even need repairs, make sure you do them with these Daihatsu Car Parts.
This School Rocks!
This whole week we are talking about preparing girls for leadership, and in our research we came across an amazing school in North Carolina called the Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy. They have a plan that every family can do, right in their own homes and with both girls and boys. This is the kind of practical, real world stuff that can help us raise leaders who will make a positive impact on the space and people around them.
The Wake Academy has a program called the Girl Leadership Class. Families can totally do a version of this on their own, and I am quite sure EVERYONE in the house will grow from it. The Stahlmanns and Hagamans are in for sure!
According to the school’s website, these are the goals of this program:
- Communication and Non-Fiction Literacy Proficiency
- critical thinking skills
- the ability to articulate abstract concepts
- thinking before speaking
- Empathy Development
- the difference between understanding and agreeing
- how to listen without judging
- genuine apology skills
- Current Events and Controversial Issues
- how to disagree
- how to clearly assert thoughts without aggression
- the value of diversity and the opinion of others
- the importance of righting wrongs
- how to confidently stand up for core beliefs
- replacing self-defeating speech
- embracing failure
- Social Responsibility and Global Awareness
- the importance of developing a personal point of view
- intercultural competencies
- behaving consciously to effect positive change in the world
Simple Monday to Friday Plan
Here’s a schedule inspired by the Wake Academy plan (but adjusted a little for the whole family) that you can implement with just a little time each day of the week.
Conversation Starter Monday
The Wake Academy uses “GirlTips” from author, speaker and leadership expert Rachel Simmons. We’re trying to make this plan adaptable to families with or without boys, but the tips on this site are great conversation starters for everyone in the house. Things like “Own Your Opinion” and “Focus on the Strategy, Not the Outcome” and “Set Goals for a Difficult Conversation” are great topics for everyone.
Pick a time on Mondays (maybe at the dinner table) to use a conversation starter. Take a look at Rachel Simmon’s Girl Tips and adapt the ideas for boys and girls. Then, read the tip out loud and let it spark some good conversation. These are transformational ideas, and if we can get our kids to think about them and connect these concepts to their own experiences, we can help them to think like leaders.
TED is an organization “devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).” Typically, these talks are given by ordinary, relatively unknown people who have an idea to share, and for the most part, these people make good role models. Whether they even know it or not, they are leaders because they inspire and influence. So pick a time on Tuesday, maybe after dinner, when everyone can pile on the couch and watch a TED Talk. Then take a few minutes to talk about it.
One of the goals of this plan is to develop non-fiction literacy proficiency. But why is it important for our kids to be able to read and understand non-fiction? Researchers are saying that it makes a big difference on college campuses and in the workplace.
A few years back researchers found that only half of high schoolers who took the ACT exam were ready for college-level reading. Researchers believe that this is a contributing factor to the high dropout rate for college freshman, which is up to 30% according to some estimates.
As for the workplace, low skill jobs are being outsourced to people in other countries, which leaves our citizens with entry level jobs that require more skill and higher critical thinking skills. Many experts say that non-fiction reading helps kids develop these complex thinking skills.
For Article Wednesday, pick an article to read as a family and then talk about it. The Wake Academy has a Pinterest Board with a whole bunch of articles to get you started. They all deal with issues that affect women, but have a look to get some ideas and then branch out on your own.
Some good magazines for articles are The New Yorker, The Atlantic Magazine, The Weekly Standard, Harper’s Magazine, The American Spectator, National Geographic, The Economist, Fast Company, Scientific American, and Psychology Today. Read newspaper articles from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Times and the Washington Post.
Think Tank Thursday
This is a day for journaling. Put on some soft instrumental music; boil some water for tea or hot chocolate; set out some snacks, and have everyone find a cozy place to write for a half hour or so.
Journaling helps people become more self-aware and introspective — important skills for any leader. Journaling teaches us how to be present with ourselves — to fully reside in our own inner world — and to articulate our thoughts and experiences.
Start a family book club, and mix it up between fiction and non-fiction books. Find some time on Friday (or maybe over the weekend, if that’s easier) to sit and talk about what you’ve read. Dinnertime might work well.
Sometimes, I think we lean too much on outside sources to train and prepare our kids, but these small steps at home with the whole family can go a long way toward shaping the hearts and minds of our kids.