Next Generation Leaders

Five Early Predictors of Leadership Skills (Part One)

About this time of year, we hear predictions from everyone: gurus make their conjectures for the New Year; financial analysts forecast what the economy will do; and our friendly weathermen makes predictions about how harsh winter will be.

These expectations are all based on studies of current realities that analysts believe will create trajectories. In other words, certain elements we see now become signals of what is to come.

That’s what I’d like to do today and tomorrow. As we look at early traits in students that send signals about who they are, I’ll answer the question: Are there any current qualities or elements students possess that can predict future leadership?

A Different Kind of PRIDE

Next Generation Leaders

I believe authentic leaders possess a different kind of pride. It constitutes a set of qualities in young people that spell the word PRIDE. Check out this list below, and note any you see in the students around you. Possessing even one of them could be an indicator of future leadership you can foster. If a student has all five, you can bank on the fact they’ll be leading something in their future:

P – Perception.

Students sending this signal perceive reality differently, seeing the ripple effect of situations; they often understand the bigger picture and see beyond what others do. In short, their brain sees before, bigger and beyond what an average student does.

This can show up even in a young child, who can see the bigger picture in a given circumstance and plan ahead. Joel was ten years old when his family met a group of friends for dinner at a restaurant. As soon as dad parked the car, Joel hopped out and ran inside to let the hostess know they needed three tables that would seat twelve. As simple as this sounds, this little act is worthy of note. Most ten year olds are preoccupied with themselves or some video game they’re playing. Joel saw beyond himself and was able to prepare for a coming reality. One day, that trait may be useful in an organization.

What can we do to help them foster this? Expose them to needs and opportunities in the community and beyond. Debrief both the problems and the possibilities, the ways in which they can take action to solve a need.

R – Responsibility.

This is a second signal kids send to adults that they possess leadership qualities. They feel ownership of a situation, as if they must respond to an injustice or a wrong reality and make it better. They are prompted to feel dutiful and feel responsible for outcomes. Even as young children, they assume they must help solve problems, correct false statements, or even aid someone who cannot do something for themselves. Often, these students pay attention to details and seem to care about elements their peers might find trivial or unimportant. At other times, their sense of responsibility isn’t displayed in details as much as an effort to make sure the final, desired goal is reached.

The Gallup Organization created an instrument years ago called Strengths Finder, and according to their research, one of the 34 internal strengths that humans possess is responsibility. Those who demonstrate this trait are often an establishment’s best workers. At Growing Leaders, we seldom hire staff or interns if they don’t display responsibility as one of their top five strengths. It is the natural bent to cover bases and make things right, even without being told to do so. In every case, they have become team leaders.

What can we do to foster this trait? Talk about how someone must be responsible for nearly every positive or negative reality in life. In fact, watch the news on TV with them and discuss how one person’s irresponsibility always becomes someone else’s responsibility, from litter on the street to significant crimes that have been committed. Then, ask them about when they’ve experienced this truth.

Tomorrow, we will examine the other three early predictors of leadership in students that spell the word PRIDE. Stay tuned!


Looking to develop leadership skills in students this school year? Check out

Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes


Five Early Predictors of Leadership Skills (Part One)