Are leaders born or made? I believe it’s a little bit of both. While many people have some leadership qualities to build upon—whether it’s great communication skills, the ability to inspire others, or a steady hand under adversity and unexpected challenges—most develop these traits over many years and through many experiences.
I also believe that leadership is best fostered with early training and exposure to mentors and role models. The founder and staff at the National Leadership Academy share my viewpoint. I was both pleased and honored when the group recently asked me to participate in a panel led by one of the leading innovators and entrepreneurs in education, Kristina Scala, and also featuring Jodi Rolland, who is one of the highest-ranking female executives on Wall Street with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Kristina’s theme for the panel was “The world is run by those who show up and hustle,” and she asked the panelists to share their experiences and personal stories along this theme.
The National Leadership Academy provides intensive, hands-on leadership and service training to high school students from around the country in an annual four-day camp in Denver, Colo. The academy, part of the Spaulding Leadership Institute, is a nonprofit youth leadership development organization founded in 2000 by Tommy Spaulding, a world-renowned speaker on leadership and author of a best-selling book, “It’s Not Just Who You Know.” (If you attended the Colliers National Meeting last year in Chicago, you will remember him as our engaging and passionate keynote speaker.)
Every year, high school students and recent graduates apply to the academy and those selected get the chance to meet with young leaders from around the country, hear from leadership experts, engage in their own mountain leadership experience and spend time serving the local community.
Spaulding started the academy to provide the life skills—leadership, volunteering, civic involvement—he felt students needed, but weren’t getting before they graduated high school. In addition to leadership and influence, some of the topics covered in the academy are communication, teamwork, time management, interpersonal relationships, assertiveness, self-confidence, empathy and humility. The academy’s vision “… is to create civic and service-minded high school students by developing their leadership skills, inspiring purpose, and empowering them to make a difference.”
Students who attend the academy often report that the training is life-changing and that they have more confidence, motivation, self-esteem and an increased ability to create connections with others.
‘Community’ is one of the four core values at Colliers and we encourage everyone to live out these values and ‘walk the ‘talk.’ Reaching out to help educate and inspire young people was an especially rewarding way for me to give back—especially when it encourages kids to become more community-minded themselves. I was happy to contribute my time and my own leadership experiences to this worthwhile organization that has trained so many future leaders who will go on to make a real difference in the world.