Creating Leaders for the Next Generation

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While individuals develop as leaders it is easy to lose sight of the importance of passing leadership down. A popular topic that arises in many of the trainings I lead within Indian Country is the importance of passing on tradition, leadership and culture to young members of the tribe.

At times, this may fall upon women more often. It might sound like a stereotype, but it is also part of our DNA as human beings. The earliest humans on earth show us that the role of women often included educating the young. While this of course does not mean this task is limited to women alone, it is critical to empower everyone to understand the importance of developing youth mentorship programs.

After spending over a decade in educational leadership I learned that there were critical soft skills that were not part of the standard curriculum. When people get into the workplace, we wonder why they don’t always know how to lead, communicate or get organized.  It’s important to ask “Do we really teach people how to do these things?”

This is not to undermine the importance of subjects such as history or math. We must challenge ourselves to find ways to interrupt old ways of thinking of education to include personal and leadership development for youth.

A case study in youth leadership

teach, inspire, motivate – a collage of isolated words in vintage letterpress wood type

Almost 10 years ago I was called to a meeting where it was discovered that almost 30 students at the school I was serving in were on the brink of failing for the 1st semester. Several leaders and educators were gathered in the room and trying to find a solution. I had just begun my coaching certification at NYU and was working on a project with developing coaching skills for educators.

I raised my hand and offered to take on the 30 students in a structured personal leadership program. With full administrative support myself and a co-worker designed 12 weeks of coaching sessions to help these young people organize time, understand how to communicate with teachers and parents, how to work well in groups and how to understand their learning strengths and weaknesses and to strategize how to get their grades up. By the end of the 12 weeks, 28 of the 30 students raised their grade at least 2 points in EVERY SUBJECT. They were never taught any extra content in these subjects. They were, however taught skills that could help them achieve better results.

It was incredible to watch. More importantly, it was inspiring to see how when instilled with personal leadership skills these young people could become the leaders of their own lives and in their community. It wasn’t just about their math grade going up, but we were able to pass on valuable skills that cannot be learned from traditional education. Over time the program grew and was eventually offered to every single student.

Starting something new and convincing people it will work doesn’t always happen overnight. However, when we don’t teach leadership and organizational skills to young people, how do we expect them to grow into the leaders of tomorrow?

Trends in education is one of the many important topics we will discuss at the Second Annual Native American Women’s Leadership Training on June 7, 2017 in Las Vegas. I would love for you to join us there. In addition, we’ve started a Facebook group to create support and structure leading up to the training. To join that group click here.

For more information or to register for the Second Annual Native American Women’s Leadership Training, click here.

For questions, contact Stephanie Licata at 201-857-5333 or

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