A couple of days ago I shared a story on Twitter from Scientific American titled Women May Find Management Positions Less Desirable. I disagreed with the premise of the article, and I shared it with a couple of people I know who I thought might be interested in it.


One of the people who responded is Dr. Christine Allen of Insight Business Works, Inc. We started discussing the merits of the article, and I said my problem with it was that it singled out women instead of addressing the problem overall. When she asked me what I meant I shared an article I wrote a few years ago titled People Don’t Want To Be Leaders, which also has an attached video addressing the same topic.

In that particular article, I mentioned talking to a group of younger people, millennials if you will, when I was in Memphis years ago, asking them why none of them wanted to become leaders. They worried about two things: one, leaders lose their jobs more often and they didn't want to deal with that; two, leaders have to deal with other people's emotions and temperaments, and they didn't want to deal with that either. This same type of thing was touched upon in an article on Digitalist Magazine titled Why Millennials Don't Want To Lead – And How To Fix It, where they reported a survey that said only 6% of millennials want to be leaders; ouch!

After that, we talked about ways to maybe start encouraging more kids today to want to be leaders as adults. I threw out the idea of there being clubs starting in middle school where kids could learn leadership. However, Twitter is a hard place to be more precise on meaning, and I had to remove a lot of words so I could get that little bit in. I thought I'd explain myself better here and hope that those of you who might read this later will offer your own opinions on how to jump start the topic of leadership amongst the younger set.

When I wrote my first book Embrace The Lead, I'd come across a statistic that said around 85% of all people had never led anything before accepting a leadership position. My premise at that time was that it explained why there are so many people who are bad at it. I never thought back then to see how many people actually wanted to be leaders though.

I don't think this is something that can be dealt with during the regular hours of school because there are so many other subjects that need to be considered. Leadership is important but so is personal finance, and if I had my druthers I'd rather schools teach kids how to handle money so they'd all have a better future.

I'm not sure if my use of "clubs" is imprecise or not; maybe I mean after school programs or organizations. My thinking is that there needs to be a pool of kids who need opportunities to actually be a leader on projects, taking turns with other kids and having oversight to teach guide them, whether they're doing well or not.

CAST for Kids 2017 168
Bureau of Reclamation
via Compfight

For the record, in my opinion, sports doesn't work to create true leaders... at least not across the board. Groups like the Boy and Girl Scouts can be good, but time has shown me that where many of these groups fail is that the people leading them don't have true leadership skills to pass on.

The paradigm would have to change. You can't have regular teachers running these groups, and not all volunteers would qualify. Instead, you need true business leaders, coaches, mentors, or consultants who are willing to give some of their time to help kids work their way through leadership processes while also learning how to follow the lead of others as necessary. You also need someone to do some vetting of this group of leaders to make sure the people kids will be entrusted to learn from are learning from the right people.

This begs the question of how to get kids into groups like this. Is there a committee that selects the kids? Does the school send notes out to parents asking them if they want to enroll their kids into these programs? Or does the school mention it like what happens in high school, and then sit back to see who decides to be a part of it?

I can't answer this part because I have no real experience with it. I don't have kids and know almost no millennials, or whatever the youngest group is being called now. I worry that groups like this could suffer like voting does in this country. Many groups clamored for the right to vote in the 20th century, but we barely got 55% of the populace to vote in the last presidential election. With the 6% number above, is it even worth the expense of schools to try putting something together like this?

I really don't know. I could take some comfort in this Chicago Tribune story saying millennials want to lead, they just need a hand. I can only hope it's true, but in any case it might be a conversation that needs to be had at some point.

Dr. Christine & I will have to meet for lunch; I don't do coffee. 🙂