Dec 6

Growing Leaders When They Are Young

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

I recently attended a parent seminar organized by APM Group Thailand and discovered a highly interesting approach to the topic “leadership”. Typically, business executives in the Western world will be exposed to leadership training for the first time in their life when they are already almost 30 years old. After graduating from university, they still need to work for a few years in a company before their boss has been impressed by their performance, has identified them as a potential future leader and has registered them for a leadership development training program.

However, the approach of the seminar speaker, Dr. Alan E. Nelson, cofounder and CEO of KidLead (, a non-profit, educational organization providing executive quality, character and skill training  for preteens and teens, is very different.

He recommends to train leaders when they are moldable. That means when they are young; as young as ten to thirteen years old.

He recommends to train leaders when they are moldable. That means when they are young; as young as ten to thirteen years old. He and his team found out that if a child displays leadership aptitude, by the age of ten he or she is sufficiently developed cognitively to learn many of the sophisticated social skills required in leadership, such as team building, problem solving, and conflict resolution. To estimate leadership aptitude (i.e. the ability to learn leadership skills), Nelson and his team developed an assessment called the Social Influence Survey (SIS). You can go to for a free assessment to find out more about your child’s leadership aptitude.

KidLead defines leadership as the process of getting people to work together to accomplish what they could not as individuals. So it is more like organizational leading. Individuals who are able to cast vision, to effectively create change, and who organize larger groups of people helping them use their gifts and skills for a common goal.

During the seminar, Nelson shared with us the seven leadership aptitude indicators in kids:

  1. The Ear Effect: peers listen to and seek input from the child
  2. The Goal Effect: child initiates goals and is not satisfied with status quo
  3. The Boss Effect: student is opinionated, bossy and accused of being disruptive at times
  4. The Negotiator Effect: child is good at presenting his ideas and having others accept them
  5. The Organizer Effect: child is good at organizing kids and peers in activities
  6. The Captain Effect: Adults tend to select the child to be in charge
  7. The Pillar Effect: The child stands up for his beliefs; is not prone to peer pressure

Nelson made us also aware of the five ways parents stunt leadership growth in their kids:

a)      Silencing: failing to listen to young leaders’ ideas

b)      Intimidating: threats, verbal warnings and striving to control the child

c)       Equality: treating siblings the same and thus denying differences (love the same; recognize gifting – i.e. love them all the same, but don’t treat them all the same)

d)      Hovering: striving to protect your child and disallowing chances to lead

e)      Assuming: thinking leading is only for adults; so we invest our kids’ time only in learning academics in school (confusing academic excellence with leadership)

Psychologists tell us that a person’s character is pretty much set by adolescence. That is why preteen leadership training is so important. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “Outliers”, who did research on the topic “success” states that providing an early start provides lifelong benefits of being trained, mentored, and compounding opportunities.

So if you want to give your child a ten to twenty – year head start versus today’s practice where leaders are only trained after having spent a few years on the job, you should consider to let your kid learn leadership skills already in young age.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2012 at 09:37 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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  1. bukkake says:

    Je vais dire que ce n’est guère inexact ..

  2. Μagnifique poste : encore une fois