Some of our best and brightest leaders are in our young people.
Take Brittany Berquist, for example. After learning that our service men and women were spending literally thousands of dollars in long distance telephone bills to keep in touch with family and loved ones at home while stationed overseas, she developed Cell Phones for Soldiers. This initiative raised funds through the sales of recycled cell phones and purchased pre-paid international calling cards for soldiers to use when calling home. In the first 8 years of operation, her organization sent over 150 million minutes to our service men and women overseas. Amazing.
Must it always take years of experience and wisdom to show the characteristics of a leader? Absolutely not. Stories such as Brittany’s is proof. Sometimes just taking the time to recognize a need and act upon it, is all that is required…no matter your age. The reality is that some of our best and brightest leaders are in our young people.
Stepping up and being a leader can be an arduous and often scary task. What if people don’t WANT to follow me? I am not good at talking to people, so why would they ever listen to me? What if my ideas aren’t good enough? What if people reject me? What if I fail? These are the questions that ALL potential leaders ask themselves. But unless there are opportunities for our young people to explore and discover for themselves that they CAN be leaders, then that potential will be lost. And as a society, we simply cannot afford that.
IndED Academies, headquartered in historic downtown Leesburg, recognizes the importance of developing these leadership skills in our youth. In response to that need, we have developed The Leadership Lab Series, a selection of workshops for students ages 8-11, focused on developing essential leadership skills in areas such as communication, organization, and management. Recognizing that leadership opportunities exist across a variety of interests, they have developed specific workshops relating to three distinct genres: Leadership in the Community (advocacy and service), Leadership in Business (entrepreneurism and business development), and Leadership in Ingenuity (creativity and engineering).
The future of our society is dependent on strong, principled leaders. We need to instill in our youth the ambition to learn new things, create new ways of thinking, and cultivate weaknesses into strengths. General Electric CEO, Jack Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Leadership requires hard work, self-reflection, and strong commitment. One must develop the skills, attributes, and characteristics to grow and evolve into an effective leader. And that pursuit to becoming an effective leader can start at a young age.