3 Challenges for Emerging Leaders

 

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Anya Kamenetz to talk about the state of education.  Anya is a staff writer for Fast Company, a columnist for Tribune Media, and she is the author of two books:  Generation Debt and DIY U.

Education, debt, and opportunity for young people will have a profound effect on the world in coming years.

Future Leaders:

1. Face unprecedented levels of debt.

Generation Debt outlines the deleterious effects of student loans and credit card spending.  Young people are facing unique economic challenges and face decisions unlike other generations.  The cost of education is going up, and the ability to pay debt off is going down.

2.  Operate in a rapidly changing educational environment.

DIY U is a about the transformation underway in education.  Everything is changing from K12 to higher education, from early testing to admittance, to the consumption of course materials.

She is currently working on her next book, The Test, which will focus on the data-driven accountability models in K12 education.

3.  Mature in a different timeframe.

In Generation Debt, Anya indicates that 46% of men and 31% of women in 2000 can be considered “grown up” by the age of thirty.  Forty years earlier, in 1960, those numbers were 65% of men and 77% of women.

Anya and I discuss the challenges facing young people today.  Despite all of these challenges, Anya is optimistic about the next generation.  She indicates that they seize control, are resilient, and have a sense of possibility.  That positive view gives me great hope.

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Power Is Not A Dirty Word

This is a guest post by Achim Nowak. Achim is the author of Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within and Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker. An internationally recognized authority on leadership influence, Achim has coached entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe.

Power is Not A Dirty Word

 


“Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.” -John Ray

 

Yes, I used to think power was a dirty word. I had it all mixed up with ego, bravado, narcissism. The Donald Trump kind of self-flaunting.  And I was spiritual, after all…

Then I had a wake-up call.

It happened during a retreat in Arizona. For the first time in my life I had taken time off to look at myself. I was in my mid-thirties, a successful theatre director in New York, recognized for my work, pretty sure that I “was somebody.” Until Reverend Mona, the facilitator of my desert experience, looked me squarely in the eye one day, held the look way too long, and uttered the words: “You need to stop being a doormat.”

Boy, she pissed me off.

When I stopped reeling from Mona’s remark, I quickly saw all the ways in which I truly was not very powerful at all. And here’s the part I instantly “got:” Because I did not have a clue about what personal power really was, my effectiveness with everyone I worked with was diminished. Day in, day out. Ouch.

 


“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” -Plato

 

I have since learned that all of us have different sources of power. I like to call them power plugs. I also know that exceptional leaders understand these sources of personal power and use them to great effect. Here is a Power Plugs model (created with psychologist Margarita Gurri, Ph.D.) which I use in my work with leaders at every organizational level. The notion of a plug implies that we can access these sources of power. Plug into them. It’s a very practical path to something that can seem elusive and overwhelming.

Our 5 Power Plugs

Achim

Lead With Friendship (Bread)

 

When we first moved to Nashville, someone gave us a “starter” for Amish Friendship Bread.

It looked like a Ziplock bag of liquid glue.  It came with instructions.  It was the “starter” for Friendship Bread.  Follow the instructions and mix in other ingredients, and you will end up with magnificent dessert-like bread.

We loved it.

And my wife loves to bake, too.

When you bake this bread, you end up with more of the “starter” mixture.  It seemed to be a mixture of yeast, flour and sugar.  Before long, my wife was baking this bread as if our kitchen was a commercial bakery.

If you visited our house to change the locks, you walked out with Friendship Bread.  Same for the plumber, the handyman, the electrician and the alarm salesman.  Basically, if you walked within one hundred yards of our house, you were going home with Friendship Bread.

 

 

Still, it kept growing.  Our kitchen counters were literally overflowing with this stuff.

Until, one day, we had enough.  My wife gave all the starters away, and we were finished.

(I’m not sure how much weight I gained during this period, but it was worth it.)

Friendship Bread really was named perfectly.  It was a great gift, a good conversation starter, and who wouldn’t immediately like someone giving them homemade bread?

The experience is a good lesson for leaders:

 

Leaders Give With No Expectation of Anything in Return