Empowering Teens to Be the Leaders of Tomorrow
Monday, September 15, 2014 6:00 AM

While there is debate in leadership circles about whether it is better to be loved or to be feared by the people you lead, there is one fact about leaders that is unquestionable - they all started off as teens! Teens like the ones that wander into our credit unions and ask us for directions to the nearest Taco Bell - these are the leaders of tomorrow.

What can we do to help them prepare for the demands that come with leadership roles - the mental fortitude it takes to make tough decisions, the humility required to ask for help, and the strength to walk in-front-of, rather than alongside, their co-workers and friends? How can we show them that leading is one part six (or seven) figure salaries and four parts developing a team and supporting the community?

We do that by reaching them right where they are - on their phones and tablets-and offering them opportunities to lead our organizations from within. We teach them how we do business, and then ask them to help us make it better; we educate them in financial planning and then give the tools they need to educate the community. We empower them to lead, teach them to ask for help, and push them to understand the value of giving back.

We do all of that with programming designed just for teens - the Claim Your Youth program-written partly by teens, for teens, and directed (and made better) by the feedback we get from our teen members. This is first hand experience in leading; they are leading a change in financial culture.