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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Did We Keep the Wrong Score Card?

Have you kept up with the latest research on graduates, and how they’re doing in the workplace?  I just met with the executive staff of the Georgia Department of Education and we both are concerned. Somehow, regardless of how well we improve students’ math and reading scores—there is still a skill gap when they move from backpack to briefcase.

This problem isn’t limited to the U.S. It’s global. One report out of the U.K. revealed that almost half of employers failed to fill vacancies (did you catch that—they had job vacancies) last year because many university graduates lack basic communication and leadership skills. Even government departments experienced problems finding suitable candidates as graduates with often “very good degrees” were unable to impress anyone during interviews, said a report by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. According to the report, grads were unable to demonstrate the right combination of “softer” skills such as teamwork or emotional intelligence.

According to a report by the American Society for  Training and Development (ASTD), the two underlying reasons for this large “skill gap” are:

1. Jobs are changing

2. Education is lagging

What are employers looking for, according to the polls by ASTD? It won’t shock you, but they’re looking for leadership skills, basic people skills and communication skills. Hmmm. I wonder if we’re keeping the wrong scorecard? While I agree math and science are important—if this is all we teach and grade, we’ve failed our students. If we don’t teach relationship skills and how to lead a team—we’ve done them a disservice and will not keep up with our global economy.

Dr. John Barge is our Georgia State Superintendent of Schools. He has created a plan to focus on developing students’ Head, Hands and Heart. This means our focus is:

* Head: we will improve traditional scores on current subjects like math, science and reading.

* Hands: we will develop practical life skills in students that make them employable and valuable.

* Heart: we will equip them with a moral compass and help them build character, values and ethics as they enter a pluralistic society.

Let me hear from you. What’s your scorecard for evaluating how well you’ve led and taught your students? Are we measuring the wrong stuff?



  1. Matt on November 7, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Tim, fantastic article.  It provides evidence for what I’ve suspected for a long time.  I’m not sure if we’re measuring the wrong stuff, but we’re certainly not measuring enough stuff.  By the way, do you have links to the studies you were citing?  I’d love to have  look at them.  Thanks.

    • Tim Elmore on November 9, 2011 at 7:12 am

      Thanks, Matt.
      I just updated the post with several links if you want to dig deeper!

  2. Christy Moosa on November 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My husband recently started a new job and is already up for a promotion. Most of the other employees are running out of the door at 4:30 instead of making sure their job is done. My husband usually does not work alot of extra hours, but he has a general care and conern for his company while others care more about quitting time.

    A willingness to work hard and having a good attitude about taking on new tasks and working well with others is huge part reason he is up for the promotion even though others may have “higher education,” and more years expierance, he is already way ahead of the game in the fraction of time.

    I give a lot of credit to God for walking with my husband in his job related adventures and I am continously amazed at how God guides and provides. This is a testimony in itself. My husband loves God, people and the effort he puts into his work and its a combination of all these things that has made him successful. 

  3. Cwright on November 8, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I wish more people would recognize the need for these important lessons! 4-H members recite this pledge at each meeting: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
    FFA members across the country (through agricultural education programs in schools….where they haven’t been cut by tight budgets yet!) live the mission statement of that organziation day in and day out. “FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
    My FFA members are very respectful and responsible citizens. They are succeeding beyond high school because they have learned how to be leaders and how to work as a team in accomplishing goals. Of course I’d love to take all the credit for that, however FFA is an organizaiton in which students can find skills through their interests and develop leadership potential without even realizing the magnitude of their growth.
    We can only hope that school budgets will take a closer look at the skills and value of such programs, as they are often the first to go as “extras” in a district. Thanks so much for this article! It certainly gives me hope that more will recognize the need and importance for such skills being taught to our future leaders.

  4. Phil Maclean on November 8, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Dr. Elmore,
    Thanks again for sharing insightful information.  Two thoughts come to mind when I read this: One, (and I know you already know this but) research such as this demonstrates the critical need for mentors.  So many iY’ers growing up not knowing how to act socially around people, adults or in the workplace are definitely values good mentors bring to the table.  But the second thought is rather a scary one;  these iY’ers are the next generation of mentors…. let that sink in.  I’m 30 years old and I realize my generation is perhaps the last generation that has not let the computer boom claim victory over our professional and people skills.  
    It is alarming to read statistics like this from a mentoring point of view.  How do you predict the iY’ers will mentor?  Through skype and encouraging text messages?  This research also points out how crucial it is that we encourage our gen-x and boomers and other “older generations” to step up to the plate because their generation may be the last generation that have some values and disciplines that are necessary to pass on.  

    • KiteZA on November 13, 2011 at 2:50 am

      It’s not quite the doom and gloom you’re implying. “Kids these days” comments are as old as recorded history, with every generation terrified that the subsequent generations are delinquent hoodlums intent on destroying the very fabric of society.

      It isn’t going to happen. If you’re worried that iY’ers are bad role models, you’re probably looking at the wrong iY’ers. Take a look at, for instance, cohorts from the One Young World summit. They could probably do a lot better than just mentor their peers and future generations – they’re in the process of mentoring older folks as well, people who aren’t always as adaptable to the changes in the global political economy.

      TL;DR: Mentors are there, look for them in the right places. There is never evidence that the “valueless, undisciplined” next generation actually is that.

      EDIT: Apologies – and in response to the article: well, yes. It seems rather intuitive, and as a young person myself, I cannot understand why there ever was a shift away from being able to work with other people in the first place. To work, you need to have the mental or physical skills, as well as the capacity to actually do the work – which usually involves working with other people, which means interpersonal skills.

      There’s also this level of irony where different actors are trying to decide “what’s best”, without really knowing what the other actors are doing. You have people who set curricula without understanding how teachers can implement it. You have teachers who don’t recognise the importance of skills that the job market craves. You have a job market that often doesn’t actively give input into the education system. You have some students who don’t see the importance of studying, even when their future depends on it.
      And yet, you have other students who take their lives into their own hands, recognise and develop the skills that are important for them as people, as well as those that will be valuable in the wider world. The second bit of irony is that these are often the people who are ignored, or undermined, for “challenging the system” and “not playing by the (arbitrary) rules that are imposed”.

      Final comment: people are not robots. It is absurd to try develop ‘professional’ skills while disregarding ‘personal’ skills.

      • Tim Elmore on November 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm

        Thanks for the thoughtful response!

        It’s true – there has always been a theme of one generation thinking that the next generation is going to fail. My concerns go beyond that. I believe that this generation has the potential to be the greatest generation but there are some real challenges that they must overcome. Growing up with the internet has created some tremendous opportunities but also some significant obstacles. The current generation of parents, teachers, coaches and leaders must adjust the way they are equipping this generation. Emotional intelligence is lower than ever and there must be an intentional focus on developing it in this generation of students.

  5. Songsign on November 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    This is a great article & RIGHT ON! We must get back to basics & the power of SIMPLICITY.
    I loved you Head, Hands, Heart, its like Father, Son & Holy Spirt…SIMPLE!

    • Tim Elmore on November 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm

      Thanks! It’s amazing to see the return to simple solutions after all our sophisticated plans have let us down 🙂

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Did We Keep the Wrong Score Card?