Friday, February 26, 2010

developing young leaders

This weekend I have four students attending the Student Leadership Conference sponsored by the Center for Ethical Leadership housed in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. While they are there, they will hear from such people as Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, engage in small group sessions on using one's strengths in leadership, and spend time with other young leaders from across the country making sense of what leadership really means for someone just entering the third decade of their life.

I have a passion for developing young leaders - it resonates with me to watch college age students step up and take leadership excites me to see college age students chosen to take on projects that move an organization makes me incredibly happy when college age students engage in projects in which they get to practice their leadership gifts. I supppose I am in pretty good vocation if these are the things that give my own life meaning.

However, there are also things about being at a college that just make my blood boil when it comes to developing young leaders. Here's my list of rants about those things on a college campus that frustrate the process of developing young leaders:
  1. Classes in which the professor talks all the time and students do not get to ever converse and think out loud
  2. Professors who ask questions to which they already know the answer, never giving students a chance to explore other options to the questions asked
  3. Courses in which students never work in teams or talk together in groups - how else will they learn this important leadership skill?
  4. Faculty and administrators who do everything themselves rather than involve students in the process of decision making and event planning
  5. Students being "written off" because they do not perform at a high academic level - some of these young men and women just need someone to believe in them
  6. Faculty who do not provide rich experiences in the classroom (or beyond) in which students must take on leadership roles
  7. Faculty who are more interested in their own subject matter and research rather than developing their students as leaders
  8. Leadership courses in which theory is taught - but never practiced
  9. Activities which are promoted as a place to learn and practice leadership, but all students ever do is what they are told to do
  10. Students who enter a classroom in a lethargic manner, expecting to sit through a lecture and not have to engage in any form
  11. Grades and GPA - because they inhibit college age students from constant improvement and thinking outside the box

Enough ranting for now - as I look through the list I realize that I am sometimes guilty of perpetuating these bad practices in higher education toward developing young people as leaders. It's time for me to step up to the plate and do something about this. I now need to figure out how to take the four students attending the conference this weekend and work with them over the next year to develop thier leadership potential - and then sit back watch them lead - which will resonate with me, excite me and make me incredibly happy. What a great vocation!

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This is an excellent list, but it doesn't apply only to faculty. It also applies to staff. Staff need to embody the same standards so that they teach other staff members how to be a leader as well. Your list is applicable to a life-long, on-going education in leadership.