Search the site

Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The Art of Drawing Commitment from Students

By: Tim Elmore

Two senior leaders of university clubs spoke to me in August about the challenges they faced with their organizations. Both were recruiting prospective members from the students on campus, but both were disappointed. They couldn’t seem to keep committed members. The students either left because they had other options, or they just lost interest in the club. 

I believe the problem was in their approach to today’s students. 

I reminded them of the story of Reed Hastings, who took his idea for Netflix to the corporate executives at Blockbuster Video stores over twenty years ago. He suggested that the future of home entertainment was streaming videos and requiring people to pay a monthly subscription for access. Blockbuster didn’t see the merit in this new way of getting people to “sign up.” It was a bad decision on their part. Today—Netflix is thriving while Blockbuster stores have disappeared. 

I wonder if we are approaching a “Netflix Generation” of students with a “Blockbuster Style” of leadership. And they just aren’t signing up. 

Changing Our Approach to Recruit Students

Typically, when adult leaders want students to “join” their club, organization, or team, we approach recruitment differently than those students wish we would. We have an outdated sequence of priorities. Ours typically flow in this order:

  1. Believe what we believe. In other words, embrace our mission and core principles.
  2. Behave like we behave. Next, we want them to begin looking and acting like we do.
  3. Belong to our group. Once they implement these, then we allow them to officially join.

The fact is, today’s students may just see the issues in the opposite order. We offer “programs” but what they want and need are deep and trusting relationships. Generation Z has been programmed to death. They have sports programs thrown at them, they have YouTube and Amazon programs targeted at them and they have TV programs to watch. What they don’t experience is rich relationships and community. They often don’t feel they fit in or belong. 

Inclusivity has taken on a new meaning today. Everyone wants to belong to a “tribe,” but unlike past generations, tribes may not center around a set of beliefs or behaviors. While Boomer and Xer leaders still make behavior or belief their focus, Millennials and Generation Z see life differently. They often perceive older generations are merely cramming a set of beliefs down their throats. They often see older generations pushing for behavior modification, to make sure everyone looks right. We spend loads of time trying to get students to think like we think—when that may never completely happen. Our focus needs to change.

Tribes work differently for today’s emerging generations.  

They Want to Belong Before They Believe

Students don’t necessarily make decisions based on logic or data. I know professors, salespeople, staff, and campus ministers who’ve made the same mistake. They try to convince a young person about something before they build any sense of relationship, trust, or community. Students today would rather join a small affinity group and “belong” to this group, even before they embrace the beliefs of that group. Their basis for making decisions is more relational than logical. The focus is social more than rational. Author and research professor Brene Brown talks about the difference between “fitting in” and “belonging.” Fitting in means someone gives up part of their identity to merely adhere to the group’s shared beliefs; they’re pushed into a mold. Belonging means individuals share an affinity group, but each brings who they are to that group. They blend but they remain unique individuals. 

The fact is, we often fail to understand the connection between belief and belonging. 

Author James Clear explains the difficulty of this reality: “Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing someone to change their tribe. If they abandon their beliefs, they run the risk of losing social ties. You can’t expect someone to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go. Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.”

Once leaders establish “belonging” the issues of belief and behavior tend to follow.

Building a Team Today

So, how do we do this? It isn’t easy. Our organization, Growing Leaders, is experiencing the pains of getting this right even now. We have new team members who want to belong but bring a different set of priorities than our past team members. I believe the key is for the leaders to fully embrace the DNA of the organization. In other words, leaders must be aligned on just who the organization is and what they’ll focus on. Determine what is “core.” Guiding principles become key for the team. Then, these core leaders must build bridges of relationship that can bear the weight of honest conversations about belonging. Leaders must welcome team members bringing their whole self to the team as long as it accelerates the fulfillment of the mission. And they must focus on enabling those new team members to see how they belong. They must be very flexible, especially at first. 

In order to accomplish this, leaders must offer various layers of opportunities for commitment. It will look like concentric circles. When someone new enters the group, allow for differences. Create spaces for them to put their toe in the water in the outer layer. Work on helping them feel they belong. As they move from an outer layer to an inner layer of commitment, look for that belonging to lead to aligned beliefs and behavior. But be careful. Don’t expect teammates to look like “identical twins,” but rather “cousins.” Same DNA, but different look. 

Those Blockbuster days are over. It’s time to stream our new recruits.

Did this article resonate with you? It’s not too late to impact your students and cultivate the leader within each of them.  Whether it’s kicking off your school year with one of our world-class speakers to motivate leaders and staff, purchasing Habitudes curriculum to drive a change within your students, receiving additional training, consulting on sequencing and implementation, or obtaining additional resources to help you, we can get you started now. Let our speakers help you with your professional development this year. Click here to learn more!


  1. Emma on July 12, 2021 at 7:51 am

    A well-thought-out and competently implemented content marketing strategy may well help in solving all these tasks in a complex.

  2. Jacklin Albert on August 13, 2021 at 8:16 am

    It’s completely true! Nowadays, students don’t make their decisions based on logic or data. That’s why the leader of an organization should think like a student to approach them and to make them stay. Moreover, leaders should use technology to approach students. As student focus is more social than rational. To learn about technology, you can seek help from .

  3. bubble shooter on August 31, 2021 at 6:39 am

    There are many examples for such problem, I have read a lot about it because of my work, but still there is no concrete solution.

  4. TomBrown on September 24, 2021 at 7:59 am

    If you don’t know how to cope with papers, then have a peek at this site. They wrote 3 essays within a day for me! Everything was good, and I even didn’t ask for improvements.

  5. Mike20 on September 25, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    My tutor helped me a notable deal today with my fluency in speaking with a few reading classes, even letting me repeat after her with a purpose to recognize how I should sound. Before this lesson, the task of sounding greater like a herbal speaker become very daunting to me. I now look forward to placing wiseessays reviews and telling other about this site.

  6. cookie clicker on October 15, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    A good article, a good book can change the fate of so many people. Thanks for the valuable sharing, please keep it up to date and I will always follow you.

  7. Lisa Rose on November 22, 2021 at 1:51 am

    WPC 2019 has ended and we have all the information available with us. For last 2-3 years, we have been seeing a trend with FIFA Rankings being influenced by the WPC. Now that we have a clear picture of how all groups turned out, let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the World Cup Preliminaries.

  8. SREEJITHA kv on November 28, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Focused on delivering Product Engineering Services and technology-driven Business Solutions, Lilac has partnered with leading technology providers in diverse areas and leverages our client’s domain expertise to improve and fortify our contributions.

  9. Jordan on November 29, 2021 at 6:26 am

    The writing and artwork about a personal playing commitment that students completed earlier in the program can be reviewed throughout the rest of the module. Consider posting the Commitments for Playing Together anchor chart, as well as students’ individual playing commitments, in a visible location in the classroom for easy access.
    P.S do my class

  10. John snow on December 7, 2021 at 4:00 am

    The article is really informative

  11. Ariel wilson on December 8, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Nowadays, it is easier to acquire anything or any talent in order to become a professional or skilled person. Typically, people seeking assistance hire someone to take in order to get skills while sitting at home.

  12. Joe Hudson on December 12, 2021 at 6:03 am

    Many of the companies only want to recruit employees with lots of experience whereas they ignore the new emerging talents and avoid recruiting the students. According to many logo glory blogs, the rate of less employment at the student level is increasing. These criteria of hunting for experience need to be changed!

  13. Minu Smith on January 3, 2022 at 3:58 am

    The art of drawing commitment from students is something that I have developed over the years, and it’s a skill you can learn too. The ability to draw commitment from your students doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill you refine over time.

  14. John Smith on January 3, 2022 at 3:59 am

    There is not much of a difference between working with students and working with adults when it comes to artistic studies. The gap between those groups can more easily be defined in practical terms; that is, the type of art and the reason one practices. With that said, this research paper aims to explore an area of concern relevant to art educators across the globe.

  15. A on January 10, 2022 at 11:25 pm
  16. Rose Meyer on January 10, 2022 at 11:31 pm

    DAEMON Tools Lite is a program that allows you to mount virtual disks contained in files on your computer. Once mounted, the virtual disks can be used like normal disks, allowing you to install programs or drag and drop files just as if the disk was a real one.

  17. Sunt voluptatem dolo on January 14, 2022 at 6:06 am

    Mason jar weights have been around for a long time, but people still don’t know about them.

  18. Jaidyn Kemp on January 18, 2022 at 4:08 am

    Housewarming quotes and sayings are a great way to congratulate your friends, family, or coworkers. By sending them housewarming wishes

  19. rosa anderson on March 1, 2022 at 4:18 am

    The art of drawing is my favorite subject and i would like to say a very big thanks from your side because you have a post a very impressive post with us. Can please make an art for my work of shearling coats and jackets ideas ??

Leave a Comment

The Art of Drawing Commitment from Students