As the Director of Activities, we can and must empower our students to use their talents and gifts for the benefit of our campus and community. Developing youth to the degree in which they begin to make decisions and feel personally responsible for the outcome of an activity or event doesn’t come naturally to many adults. However, in order to truly develop our students within the confines of a leadership program, it should be our desire to get them to this point. As adult leaders we should model what we wish to see in our leaders, mentor them along the way, monitor their progress, and eventually reach a point where we are multiplying student leaders. Once we’ve reached the stage of multiplication, student leaders feel empowered to take the initiative and the responsibility required of being a leader.
A leadership program that authentically seeks to multiply its young people has an entirely different feel from one that does not. When students begin to see themselves as partners in the decision making process or having the ability to implement their ideas they become highly more committed to the organization.
Kelly Curtis said it best when she wrote, (Empowering Youth)
“It’s understood that youth see the world differently from adults, both in terms of the needs that exist and in how those needs can be addressed. The best environment mixes the two perspectives, valuing the reality and expertise of the adult and the creative optimism and energy of young people. Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when they feel safe, when they believe that they are liked and respected, and when they make positive contributions to their organization or community.”
The process of developing youth leaders far outweighs the product. As an advisor of a leadership program, our focus shouldn’t be on the end result. It’s the act of organizing and planning an activity or event, not the dollars earned or number of attendees that make the most impact. In the end, the student will remember most the journey of the process, not the destination of the product. The secret is to trust youth to do the best job they can do and even if the product is not exactly what you had in mind as the advisor, the process can be a fantastic learning experience for the student leader.
Start with a plan. Be spirited during the process. Serve an extraordinary product. Shine the spotlight on people.