Archives For Generation iY

Very often, we find ourselves leading students (perhaps our own kids!) and finding ourselves in new territory. Perhaps our parents never modeled healthy leadership for us when we were growing up, and now we’re emulating whatever leadership style we experienced as kids. Quite frequently, I see teachers and parents feeling like they’re kids’ lifestyles are spinning out of control. The endless technology, the social connections that aren’t positive, the content they’re exposed to 24/7, all lead us to want to impose some rules on them. After all, we know what’s best for them. We default to seizing control.

Consider, however, if this is the best way to reach your desired outcome.


photo credit: martinak15 via photo pin cc

Don’t think IMPOSE, think EXPOSE.

Kids have been given options since they were pre-schoolers. They’ve been able to choose what food they want to eat, what game they wish to play, where they want to go on vacation, what sport they want to play this fall, you name it. So, when adults become scared their kid is falling behind, we tend to impose a rule or a behavior on them. While mandatory conduct is part of life, it carries with it some negative baggage. When students feel forced to do something, they usually don’t take ownership of it; it’s your idea not theirs. Outcomes are almost always diminished. We may have forced them to do something on the outside, but inside they rebelled.  Why not think “expose” instead of impose. Show them something new. Give them an opportunity they can’t pass up. Make it enticing, as if they’re going to miss out on something huge if they pass on it. It then becomes their idea. Instead of pushing, you’re pulling. President Dwight Eisenhower would often use a string to explain how to best lead people. If a string is lying straight on a table, pushing it forward doesn’t work very well. Pulling the string is the best way to move it.

Immediate Take-Aways?

  1. Don’t make your leadership training mandatory. Make it exclusive.
  2. Don’t water down your leadership training. Make it excellent.
  3. Don’t force students to participate, make it enticing.

A year ago, I asked my son to join me on a trip. In fact, I consistently invited him on several trips. When he asked where I was going, the destination never struck his fancy. He declined. I knew those trips would be a great experience, but I didn’t want to force things. So he stayed home. When I returned from my trips, I specifically shared all the “cool” things that happened. Then, left it alone. I didn’t say “I told you so.” Recently, I mentioned I was going on another trip and was taking a few students with me. I didn’t invite my son. (I wasn’t playing games with him, but it was a trip I wasn’t sure he’d enjoy.) He hinted, however, that he may want to go with me on a future trip. I said I was open. Last month, as we talked about what he was up to recently, I mentioned I was travelling to a city I’d invited him to earlier. This time, he spoke up and asked if he could go. He actually wanted to join me.

It was his idea, but I was leading him.

What are some create ways to apply this principle? Leave a comment below.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been privileged to be interviewed on CNN’s HLN News Now program twice to talk about Generation iY, and the impact technology has on our kids.

As smartphones, tablets, social media and other digital strategies reshape the way we educate our students and do our jobs, scientists and psychologists are beginning to question what our dependence on technology is doing to our minds.


photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photo pin cc

Continue Reading…

We’ve all been conditioned to be pragmatic. Whatever gets us to our goal is what we want. Whatever saves time. Whatever scratches the itch. Whatever works.

Leaders are often chosen because they’ve mastered this pragmatism. Whatever is strategic. Whatever produces results. We are goal-oriented and practical. Never mind the ethics or values we’ve compromised.


photo credit: Mr_Stein via photo pin cc

In our work with schools around the world, we’ve found an intense pragmatism in students, that leads them to cheating on tests, lying to their teachers and betraying the trust of their fellow-students as they work on team-projects. The most recent national surveys of secondary schools students reveal that the majority of teens in America cheat on tests.

How could this happen? Students tell us they know that cheating is wrong, but in order to get the grade they need to produce the GPA they need to get the scholarship they need to get into the college they want to attend—they have to cheat. Continue Reading…

Now that both the Republican and Democrat national conventions are over, how will the 2012 election look different for Generation Y? America was reminded of some important lessons during the presidential election in 2008. Barak Obama defeated a much more experienced John McCain to become the first black president in American history. It was a milestone for our country.

Many of the lessons we learned were from the youngest voters in that election:

  • They wanted a new way to communicate, through web communities.
  • They wanted politics to change—to stop fighting and start collaborating.
  • They wanted a cause to believe in, to invest in, and to hope for.
  • They wanted change—and got it in a young, charming African-American.

photo credit: jmtimages via photo pin cc

I believe there are new lessons in store for us in the 2012 election. We have seen a shift in culture over the last four years; younger members of Generation Y are different than their elders. If I were to sit down and advise a presidential hopeful in the 2012 election, this is what I’d say to win the Gen Y vote in light of this shift:  Continue Reading…


Preventing burnout is a serious concern. The number one issue I hear students complaining about on the college campus is burnout. In fact, 94% of university students say the word they use most to describe their life is: overwhelmed. Almost half of them are so overwhelmed “it is almost difficult to function.” And nearly one in ten have considered suicide in the last year.

For student leaders—it’s even worse. Students who are R.A.s, campus club leaders, student government officers, Greek leaders and the like suffer from burnout even more than the average student. Because of the high demands of their jobs and because so many must maintain a minimum GPA just to keep their jobs, they can stress out over the multi-tasking. They are students, administrators, role models, teachers and counselors.


photo credit: Magnus. via photo pin cc

According to a report by Derrick Paaladino (University of North Texas), Thomas Murray (University of Florida), Rebecca Newgent and Lyle Gohn (University of Arkansas), student leaders experience burnout for three big reasons: Continue Reading…