It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences are all building blocks of leadership.

One of my current clients, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) believes at its core that it is never too early to develop leadership skills.  The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.  NSBE is a student-governed national organization committed to youth leadership development for more than 40 years.

Vista Global has been working with NSBE to design and implement a comprehensive leadership development curriculum that builds students’ competencies.  Several of those competencies focus on defining and understanding yourself as a leader. The first phase of any leadership program is examining your own leadership talents and skills. You have to know yourself before you can bring out the best in others.

Vista Global relies on the field’s best methodologies and tools to help clients strengthen their leadership skills, including the framework of The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  This framework is effective because it was developed by conducting thousands of interviews of ordinary managers talking about a personal best experience when they had extraordinary results. Through these interviews and surveys, the researchers arrived at Five Practices that were universally demonstrated by these leaders. The Five Practices include:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

This framework is one of the few resources that has a customized design for student leaders, including a 360 Student Leadership Practice Inventory  (SLPI) assessment tool.  It evaluates 30 specific behaviors (6 for each practice).  It is a clear and concise way to determine how well a leader demonstrates a Practice.  The 360 degree aspect of the assessment includes observers that have seen the leader in action and can offer their perspective on the frequency of demonstration of behaviors.

This last weekend, I met with 80 members of the NSBE Collegiate leadership to review their individual results from the SLPI and start the process of developing a leadership action plan.  Each student determined one specific behavior to work on over the next month and identified an accountability partner to provide support and encouragement.

Leadership development is a lifelong journey and the NSBE leaders have a jump start on many leaders in the work force! If you are interested in learning more about The Leadership Challenge or 360 assessments, contact Mary today.