“If you want to change the world, focus on leaders. If you want to change leaders, focus on them when they’re young,” —Alan E. Nelson, Ed.D., founder of LeadYoung Institute
With the goal of transforming the Conejo Valley into the “most young leader-friendly community on the planet,” LeadYoung Institute is poised to launch a unique, community-based youth leadership program aimed to identify and develop 10- to 18-year-olds gifted in organizational leading.
“Our best leadership training takes place after leaders are set in their character, have formed bad habits, and are less pliable in their cognitive abilities,” says LeadYoung’s Founder Alan E. Nelson, Ed.D., who teaches leadership at USC Marshall School of Business and the Naval Postgraduate School. “One Harvard publication notes the average first age of executive training is 42. The goal is to get to leaders while they’re moldable, not moldy.”
With a doctorate in leadership from the University of San Diego and years of experience teaching leadership and organizational-related courses at Pepperdine, USC and the Naval Postgraduate School, in addition to writing 20 books and 200+ articles, Nelson has spent the past decade analyzing how children and youth exhibit early traits of executives and how to develop these skills.
“The U.S. and California Departments of Education recognize leadership as a domain in the area of gifted and talented education, yet practically nothing is done in schools to identify and develop these students,” remarks Nelson. “Society commonly believes that anyone can lead, when, in reality, less than 10% possess the aptitude for leading sufficiently as youth that allows them to be trained at an accelerated pace.”
Nelson developed LeadYoung’s age-appropriate developmental curricula based on interactions with thousands of students throughout the world, including Peru, Thailand, Malaysia, UAE, Canada and the United States. While numerous schools, civic groups and churches use Nelson’s training curricula, offered through his nonprofit organization, KidLead, Inc., LeadYoung Institute marks the inaugural approach to creating a local focus on executive talent scouting years and even decades before most organizations.
Working with parents, schools, faith communities and civic groups, LeadYoung strives to identify the top 5-10% of students expressing leadership abilities and then invite them into ongoing training programs. “Like travel ball teams in athletics and AP classes in schools, LeadYoung is designed for students who exhibit an aptitude for organizational leading, a talent scouting program for budding CEOs. Every adult leader was at one time a preteen. LeadYoung’s goal is to identify and develop future leaders now, giving them a huge head start,” says Nelson.
“Those who’ve used our curricula like the way it engages the unique abilities of young leaders, who are often pegged as bossy, troublemakers, strong-willed and disruptors,” Nelson explains. “It’s also a great way for schools to tap the social influence of student catalysts, who help improve the social climate of their schools.”
LeadYoung Institute is currently accepting applications and nominations of students for consideration in its first training programs this fall. A great way to estimate a student’s leadership aptitude is to take a free online assessment on the student, available at LeadYoungTraining.com.
“We define leadership as the ability to help others achieve together what they would not or could not as individuals. Based on that definition, leaders are those who catalyze leadership and leading is what they do to catalyze it,” explains Nelson, who began his own journey 36 years ago as a youth worker at a small church in Newbury Park. Having returned to the area with his wife of 36 years, Nelson plans to pour his passion for leadership into local youth and eventually expand his program to allow a wider audience to benefit from the training.
“Eventually, our goal is to have hundreds of students identified, who are gifted at leading, being trained in the Conejo Valley,” says Nelson. “The most exciting thing about LeadYoung is when you see a group of student leaders learning executive skills that would astonish very seasoned adult leaders. These students also impress veteran leaders because they remind them of when they were preteens and teens. Imagine meeting a Ronald Reagan or Hilary Clinton at the age of 10! We are giving young leaders a 10- to 30-year head start in their organizational development.”
For more information, visit LeadYoungTraining.com or call 831.869.8532.