DEVELOPING YOUNG MINDS TO BE FUTURE LEADERS
Teenagers. Early Saturday morning. All day training. I wondered how this was going to go. When I was a teenager, ‘early’ and ‘Saturday’ did not go in the same sentence. But this group of 4H junior leaders got it done! They were able to absorb, synthesize, and present their own views of leadership over the course of a single Saturday.
Let me back up and tell you why our company was here. The 4H Junior Leader Weekend is an annual overnight retreat for Junior Council members, ages 13-19. The retreat focuses on enhancing teamwork and leadership so they can go on and become camp counselors, participate on committees, and mentor younger 4H members. Lead Your Way Solutions was asked to develop and deliver an all-day workshop that would help them become a more effective leader.
The 4H members were actively engaged right from the beginning. We divided the 27 participants into groups of 4 and had each group designate a leader. Our first exercise asked them to identify a list of great leaders in 4 categories (entertainment, sports, community, and family) they admired and why, and then present this information back to the entire team. As I watched the interaction among the groups, I was pleasantly surprised to see the high-level of engagement and the back and forth thoughtful discussion. I’ll admit that I thought this was going to be a challenging exercise for them. Then I realized that it wasn’t the exercise that was the hard part. For the majority of the participants, the hard part was speaking in front of their peers. Many of them weren’t comfortable standing in front of a room presenting. I could hear the mumbles and see the nerves reflected on their faces. However, as they stood up to talk one by one, I was awe-struck by the support and encouragement each person received from their peers. Now that’s leadership in action right there!
As we moved along in the day, I wondered to myself: can they maintain the same level of excitement, enthusiasm, engagement, and interest? Were they going to truly understand the principals we were teaching? And, were they going to know how to apply them?
Yes, Yes and Yes! I quickly discovered that their eagerness to learn only grew throughout the day. I witnessed a true transformation. Not only did they demonstrate improved leadership skills but they also exhibited increased confidence through a stronger voice and presence.
The day culminated with a skit by each group expressing the key learnings of the workshop in their own words. The outcome exceeded our expectations. I applaud and admire this young group of adults who showed the desire to improve as leaders through their commitment to actively and meaningfully participate in an all-day training workshop!