When I began to think about teen leadership this month, I thought about simply listing the names of the many teens and young adults in our community who are shining leaders. Then I thought, ‘that list will be at least an entire page of the magazine!’ My next thought was to focus on leadership skills and highlight the organizations that help youth to develop these skills. Again, a pretty long list. It would be hard to choose which ones to highlight. Then I remembered, “Everyone Leads.” It’s the title of a book I never read. But I did hear the author (Paul Schmitz) speak on YouTube, more than once.
Paul has a fresh take on leadership that can help us look at one another, and most especially our youth, with fresh eyes. Some highlights include his definition of leadership as “an action everyone can take, not a position that a few people hold.” And while he acknowledges that skills matter, he stresses the importance of the values we lead by. According to Schmitz, leadership happens at all levels and is best when grounded in five core values: asset-based, inclusion, collaboration, continuous learning, and integrity.
So not to take up an entire page, let’s limit our focus to the first value for now: asset based. What exactly does that mean as a value? Schmitz frames it around the well-known question, ‘is the glass half full, or half empty?’ The answer is . . . “YES!” It is both. And a leadership action every one of us can take is to find the fullness in everyone. Parent, teacher, neighbor, friend – find the fullness in each young person you meet. Build a true and authentic relationship from that foundation. You will be amazed to see what grows from that connection.
If you are interested in exploring more, you can search Paul Schmitz on YouTube, buy the book, or reach out to start a conversation with me at Berks Teens Matter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Berks Teens Matter
by Nadine J. Smet-Weiss, Community Liaison; translated by Johnathan Rodriguez-Báez, HRC and Youth Ambassador Coordinator