Leadership can be an abstract concept that is very difficult for youths, teens, and young adults to comprehend. There is not a “black and white” grading rubric for leadership, there are thousands of different definitions of leadership, and leadership is rarely taught as its own standalone subject matter.
In my many discussions about leadership with youths, teens, young adults, parents, teachers, and coaches, it has been evident that students often have a misconception about what it means to be a leader. Leadership is seen as an “intimidatingly large task” – something that is only for students who are academically gifted or for the students who are most vocal in class.
The Empower Leadership Team believes that (1) everyone has the capability to lead, (2) leadership skills can be taught, learned, and improved, and (3) positive leadership skill development should be an essential part of the education and development of youths, teens, and young adults!
Social-Emotional Learning and Leadership
Social-Emotional Learning is the process through which young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions (1). The development of positive leadership skills will directly contribute to the ability of a youth, teen, or young adult to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, set and achieve goals, develop trusting relationships, and make healthy decisions. The Youth Leadership Commitment Activity is designed to help youths better understand how what they say and what they do affects themselves, others, and their community by providing an opportunity to identify tangible and measurable actions that contribute to positive personal growth and that of those around them!
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
Take the intimidating “big project” feel out of leadership for youths by shifting the focus to small achievable daily actions that lead to big successes! Here is a simple leadership activity that can be implemented by teachers, parents, coaches, club leaders, or anyone who plays a role in the development of youths and young adults. The goals of the Leadership Commitment Activity are to help youths:
- Identify their personal “motivating factor” (vision)- something that they want to achieve or be exceptional at
- Find the courage to take action by listing small daily actions (one bite at a time) that will help them progress towards achieving their vision/goal
- Realize that their own actions have an impact on themselves as well as those around them and to better understand how they contribute to the successes (or failures) of their classmates or teammates
Implementing The Youth Leadership Commitment Worksheet
Click here to download and print PDF
- Print a copy of the worksheet and provide one to each student
- Facilitate a brief discussion on the importance of leadership and social-emotional skill development (leverage your school’s or organization’s core values and/or mission)
- Ask each student to write down something they would like to achieve or “be great at” in the far left column. This section focuses on Level I Leadership of Self
- Ask each student to then brainstorm and write down 3 to 5 personal actions they can implement each day to progress towards achievement – then have the students sign their name below the far left column.
- Facilitate a discussion around goal setting and the importance of the journey towards achievement!
- Next, ask the students to brainstorm and list 3 to 5 actions they can exhibit to help those around them achieve their personal goals in the middle column. This section focuses on Level II Leadership of Others.
- Once complete, ask each student to have a peer sign under the middle column. This will help form a foundation for peer-to-peer accountability
- Finally, ask each student to think about and list 3 to 5 actions they can perform each day that will contribute to a positive community (in school, at home, etc.). This section focuses on Level III Leadership of Others. Ask each student to obtain the signature of an adult (parent/guardian, teacher, coach, administrator). This will add to the foundation of accountability
- In Sight – Top of Mind!!! To bring leadership to the forefront in your classroom and at your school – keep these worksheets OUT OF THE FILING CABINET!!! Revisit the worksheet regularly, talk about the progress and/or struggles students are experiencing, and celebrate the little victories achieved during each student’s journey!
Youth Leadership Development
We are all currently living in a world full of chaos, divide, and uncertainty – the time is NOW to teach youths and young adults about positive leadership, treating others with respect and dignity, appreciating individual differences, and to help develop a desire to positively impact their communities!
To learn more about how Empower Leadership’s experiential youth leadership development workshops and programs, visit our website or contact Empower Leadership by phone at (877) 532-3987 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in implementing the Youth Leadership Commitment Activity but have questions about how to do so? Email Dan Jaskot, President and General Manager of Empower Leadership, at email@example.com to schedule a FREE 15-minute Zoom consultation meeting!
(1) What is Social-Emotional Learning
(2) Research and Resources for Social-Emotional Learning