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Leadership for the New Millennials

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  • 1. THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY JOHN GLENN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS Leadership for the New Millennials A qualitative assessment of essential elements of youth leadership development programming and evaluation practices By Jacqui Buschor A policy/management paper submitted in partial fulfillment for the Masters in Public Administration Degree Autumn 2008
  • 2. Contents Executive Summary....................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 4 A New Definition of Leadership ................................................................................................................ 4 Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Transforming Leadership Program .................................................................... 6 Beyond Programming ............................................................................................................................... 7 Literature Review .......................................................................................................................................... 7 Essential Concepts .................................................................................................................................... 8 Transforming Leadership ........................................................................................................................ 10 Methodology............................................................................................................................................... 11 Generalizability ....................................................................................................................................... 12 Findings ....................................................................................................................................................... 13 Integral Elements to a Successful Program............................................................................................. 13 Service-Learning as a Solution ............................................................................................................ 15 Determining Success in Leadership Development Programs ................................................................. 15 Barriers to Implementation .................................................................................................................... 18 Conclusions ................................................................................................................................................. 18 Implications for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A and Similar Organizations ....................................................... 19 The Need for Youth Leadership Development Research ........................................................................ 21 Further Research..................................................................................................................................... 21 2
  • 3. Executive Summary Contemporary youth are moving away from a definition of leadership that focuses on a command-and-control managerial process towards a definition of leadership that focuses on group collaboration for the purpose of social change (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). To effectively address this paradigm shift, youth leadership development programs must also make changes. What are the essential elements of a successful youth leadership development program under this new paradigm? Furthermore, what is the proper process for determining that success? This paper presents that a successful youth leadership development program must include: deciding on a clearly defined concept of leadership; self-confidence building techniques; realistic and age-appropriate leadership challenge scenarios; and service-learning opportunities. These essential elements are determined based on a comprehensive critical review of existing literature and research on youth leadership development under the new leadership paradigm. Some leadership development programs use ice-breaker type games and activities to build leadership skills (Boyd, 2000)and while these can be helpful to some ends, they do not fully meet the demands of youth aspiring to the new definition of leadership. The activities associated with service-learning offer a more appropriate avenue for teaching leadership under the new paradigm. First, service-learning meets the desires of youth to create social change. Service-learning, by definition offers benefits to both the recipient of the service and those who are serving. Secondly, service-learning offers an opportunity for hands-on leadership learning. By allowing the youth to be actively involved in every step of the process, they gain leadership skills that are applicable to real-world leadership challenges. Furthermore and finally, allowing youth involvement through the planning, implementation and follow-up of the event each group member can participate in the process that best meets their leadership skill set, promoting the tenet that each person has something they can add to the leadership experience. Beyond programming, youth leadership development organizations must also plan for evaluation of their programs to determine whether or not they’ve been successful. The process for determining success of the program first requires setting objectives and subsequent activities that match the organization’s accepted definition of leadership. These objectives are best determined through the construction of a logic model to ensure a clear flow from inputs to activities to desired outcomes (United Way of America, 1996). From the outcomes determined in the logic model, the organization must then develop a system of measureable and quantitative outcome indicators and a system for collecting and analyzing the data (Hatry, 1999). Only then can an organization definitively prove to program participants, grant makers and other stakeholders that the program is truly making its intended impact. 3
  • 4. Introduction “Supervisors were to be regarded like officers in the military; You obeyed them because you learned you had to as part of military discipline and because you hoped they had your best interests in mind” (Bennis, 2002; p. 48). Warren Bennis, a leading scholar of generational differences describes the way many Baby Boomer Americans view leadership. Young people are acutely aware of the disconnect between those traditionally heralded as leaders and the type of leaders they want to be. Traditionally, leaders have been characterized by a commanding presence, a sense of authority and the power and influence they had over their subordinates. This “command-and-control” idea of leadership is of no interest to contemporary youth. Instead, young Americans prefer definitions of leadership that imply standing up for personal principles, exhibiting ethical behavior, and the ability to affect social change (GSRI, 2008). With such a striking change in the definition of leadership, it is not unreasonable to expect the methods by which leadership skills are taught to require a similar overhaul. The new leadership paradigm calls for an active process of learning through which all students can progressively hone leadership skills along age appropriate developmental stages (Terry, 2007), as opposed to traditional youth leadership development programs that employ activities that allow for only natural-born leaders to emerge. There are numerous organizations dedicated to youth leadership development, but are their methods reflecting the new leadership paradigm? Does the style and purpose of the leadership programming resonate with youth seeking an opportunity to change the world in which they live? This paper seeks to answer the following questions: Under the new leadership paradigm, what are the integral elements of a successful youth leadership development program and what is the process by which organizations can measure that success? A New Definition of Leadership Before any plans can be made to design a new youth leadership program, it is imperative that the organization decide on a definition of leadership. For example, does the program desire to create leaders who can manage groups or foster group collaboration? A leader who can command respect or inspire leadership in others? With thousands of possible definitions of the concept, failing to define 4
  • 5. what the concept means for the organization could result not only in failure to develop the desired type of leaders, but could actually result in designed activities working in contradiction to the desired result (Klau, 2006). When deciding on the desired definition of leadership, it is important to recognize that the idea of leadership held by contemporary youth is quite different from traditionally held leadership ideals. Leadership, to those of the Baby Boomer generation, is centered on those in formal positions of authority such as CEOs, military personnel and those in political office (Bennis, 2002). Contemporary youth have no interest in becoming this type of leader. In fact, when asked what kind of leader they wanted to be, only 33% were interested in “being in charge of other people and making decisions that affect them” while nearly two-thirds of youth prefer aspire to be leaders who “stand up for their beliefs and values.” Furthermore, when asked to define leadership, nearly 70% of youth cite “one who brings people together to get things done” as the ideal example (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). The focus on the group is one of the most crucial aspects of the new definition of leadership. Youth are much more concerned with developing a culture of leadership within a group as opposed to encouraging one leader to step up and take charge (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). Within the study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI), youth frequently mentioned that the group leadership style allows adaptation to changing situations (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). Each group member, in this style of leadership, possesses a certain set of skills. For example, some may be strong in taking initiative and getting the work started while others are more skilled at encouraging team members and pushing the group through difficult barriers. The youth do not deny the need for an executive decision-making type of leadership. They simply acknowledge that others in the group also have talents to offer (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). These youth are, in fact, possibly reacting rationally to the changing environment in which they live. As the marketplace becomes increasingly global and fast-paced, only the organizations which can remain flexible and agile will survive and thrive (Bennis, 2002). Baby Boomer ideas of leadership rest on the abilities of one or a few, which locks the group into one set of primary skills, will serve the group well in a stable environment. However, a stable environment is no longer the reality in which these groups live. The ability to practice this adaptive leadership is imperative to their success (Roach, 1999). Given the lack of concern for an individual leadership position, it seems natural that youth would be less concerned with the “who” of leadership and more to do with the “what” (Roach, 1999). 5
  • 6. The youth have little interest in leadership as way to gain respect and fame. In fact, they grow increasingly weary as those held up as role models are continually marred with scandal. Instead, contemporary youth seek to bring about social change as their main aim of leadership (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008) As organizations work to establish a clear definition of the type of leadership they wish to teach, each would be well-advised to consider the ideas of the youth they will serve. Feeding the desire to make social change will engage youth and compel them to learn more, but locking them into a more traditional view of leadership training will not resonate and may dissuade them from aspiring to leadership at all (Morgan, 2001; Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Transforming Leadership Program Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (GSUSA) is one example of a youth leadership development program that has recently recognized the need for a shift in their approach to leadership training. In its nearly century-long history has a premier leadership development organization, the approach to leadership training has changed frequently in accordance with changing social demands (Girl Scouts of the USA, 2008), with the most recent changes precipitating from the results of a survey conducting by its own research and development department, the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI). The GSRI study was prompted by reports to GSUSA that the programming the organization offered was increasingly viewed as irrelevant and outdated to the its target audience (A Girl Scout Pledge: Relevance, 2006). In response, the organization commissioned a study to determine how American youth (between the ages of 8 and 17) view leadership and what kinds of leaders they aspire to become. The results, as presented in the report Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership, indicated that confirmed that the organization’s current programming, designed to develop independent young women, focused on more traditional views of leadership was failing to meet the demands of its clients, who now sought a more group oriented approach (Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008). Consequently, GSUSA began an intensive strategic planning and restructuring process that included an overhaul of the Girl Scout leadership experience (Girl Scouts of the USA, 2008). The new leadership program seeks to address the new paradigm by focusing on collaborative leadership and achieving social change and is based on a set of Journeys books. The books are published by GSUSA and are designed to guide the girls through meeting several of the 15 outcomes the organization has 6
  • 7. established. Ultimately, Transforming Leadership seeks to foster in the girls confidence and self-efficacy and inspire them to create social change in their communities and in the world (Girl Scouts of the USA, 2008). Beyond Programming Clearly, GSUSA has recognized the shift in leadership paradigms and has attempted to restructure its programming accordingly, but are changes in programming enough to ensure that the organization will successfully meet its objective to build self-confident agents of social change? How will GSUSA know when it has reached its goal? In fact, programming alone cannot ensure success or indicate levels of success for a program. The United Way, a leading resource on non-profit management, strongly recommends constructing a logic model and performance measurement system as part of the strategic planning process (United Way, 1996). Designing a performance measurement system allows an organization to determine the actual impact a program has made in the lives of people who complete it. This information is far more valuable to grant makers and other funders and the mere total of people who have moved through the program (Hatry, 1999). Especially in times of economic downturn, when competition for funding is higher, the demand from grant makers for this level of information increases drastically (United Way, 1996). Subsequently, an organization’s ability to accurately and efficiently produce this information could prove vital to the program’s financial sustainability. Constructing a logic model provides a structured process through which an organization can create the outcomes to be included in the performance measurement system. The construction process includes identifying inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes associated with any given program objective. Using the logic model as a visual representation of the program, the organization can track the flow of information from input to outcome to ensure that all activities are necessary for meeting the objective and that all objectives have a means through which they are met (Hatry, 1999). This paper will lay out the process through which youth leadership development organizations can apply the logic model and performance measurement construction process to improve the evaluation and subsequent success of their programs. Literature Review Despite the abundance of youth leadership development programs, many receiving grant or government funding, very little research has been done to determine best practices for programming or 7
  • 8. for evaluation of such organizations. Instead, many organizations apply the research from adult leadership training to youth, which fails to address the differences between youth and adult leadership scenarios (Boyd, 2000). The research that does exist, however, demonstrates that youth best learn leadership skills when certain specific training elements are present. Essential Concepts Most fundamentally, every youth leadership development program aspires to the ultimate long-term outcome of building children into effective leaders. Though this paper has established that the new leadership paradigm is built on the idea of a collaborative group style of leadership that creates social change, the style of collaboration and area of social change will vary wildly from organization to organization, based on its target demographic, social priorities and the organization’s overall mission. This paper does not attempt to ascribe relative value to any of these details. Instead, it will show that no matter the variety of a youth leadership development programming, no organization can be successful without giving consideration to several essential concepts. Self-confidence There is a strong connection between a child’s self-confidence and his or her willingness to take a leadership role. The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) conducted a study in 2006 to gage the attitudes of American youth toward leadership. The study discovered that 92% of youth believe that the skills necessary for leadership can be learned, less than 21% feel they possess these skills themselves (GSRI, 2008 pp. 14-15). Similarly, slightly more than 35% of youth desire to be leaders rather than followers (GRSI, 2008 p. 11). This points to a severe lack of self-confidence in leadership ability. Without a strong sense of self-confidence and a positive self-concept, youth are unlikely to step forward and lead a group toward a goal, if they feel compelled to contribute at all (Morgan and Streb, 2001). By enhancing youth self-confidence through programmed activities, tendencies toward leadership can become a natural by-product (GSRI, 2008). Self-efficacy Similar to self-confidence, youth must develop a strong sense of self-efficacy before they can attain the leadership skills they desire. Based on the social change definition of leadership, self-efficacy in youth leadership development refers to the confidence youth have in their own ability to actually make an impact in their world. Again, according to the GSRI study, though youth most aspire to a concept of leadership that values results in social change, they have very little confidence in their ability to actually effect change. 8
  • 9. Less than 25% of youth surveyed felt they had very little power to make a change in their environments, while nearly the same amount indicated they felt they had absolutely no power to affect change (GSRI, 2008 p. 27). Youth will not feel compelled to tackle leadership challenges unless they feel they can make a meaningful contribution to society (Boyd, 2000). Service-learning Service-learning as defined by Shelley Billig, a leading expert in the field, as a teaching method that involves students performing community service in order to augment and reinforce knowledge and skills learned through curricular objectives. The actual activities involved in service-learning, however, vary widely around the basic definition, as well as the extent to which service-learning is integrated into the core curriculum (Billig, 2002). Much research has sought to identify the benefits of service-learning and many studies make similar conclusions. In general, the studies suggest that participants in service-learning programs show increased growth in personal and social development measures such as self-confidence and communication skills (Billig, 2000; Morgan, 2001) and increased academic accomplishment (Billig, 2002). The opponents of service-learning are typically not critics of the concept itself, but of the lack of uniformity and steadfast standards of practice in individual programs. According to Billig, “service- learning is not a model and does not have specific steps, content, duration, frequency or goals” (Billing, 2000). Such a broad definition leaves many service-learning initiatives wide open to the threat of bad program design and implementation. Some skeptics call for a tighter definition of the service-learning concept to lessen the risk of bad program design. These definitions would indicate the differences between service-learning, which has clear ties to curricular concepts and basic community service which has strictly social goals. Those who study child development, however, attest that instead of being excluded from the concept of service-learning, basic community service should be a seen as the appropriate service-learning experience for younger primary or elementary-aged students in early stages of personal and social development. By creating a loose framework based on students’ developmental stages, service-learning can evolve from its “one-size-fits-all” beginnings to a highly impactful and individualized experiential education opportunity (Terry, 2007). Within this framework, students would progress from participating in simple service projects at a young age to service-learning projects of increasing complexity and demand for responsibility as they age. 9
  • 10. Service-learning projects offer youth the opportunity to practice the leadership skills they’ve learned through other activities (Boyd, 2000). This “real-world” practice opportunity also teaches the children to be flexible as they deal the challenges that arise from leading in an environment that is less controlled than those available in internal organization activities. Transforming Leadership In an attempt to create a new, more forward-thinking image and to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the organization, GSUSA is planning the rollout of a new leadership development program. The program, Transforming Leadership, seeks to redefine its leadership training through curriculum enhancement. GSUSA will offer the new Transforming Leadership program to augment its current curriculum. The programming is based primarily on a series books called journeys, with each Girl Scout age level having six journeys. The journeys contain lessons and activities centered on the three themes of Transforming Leadership: Discover, Connect and Take Action (GSUSA, 2008). The Discover theme encourages girls to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their belief and values. The Connect theme seeks to teach girls the necessary skills for building strong relationships and working together. Finally, the Take Action theme inspires the girls to use their new skills to make a change in their communities and in their world. Evaluation for the success of Transforming Leadership is heavily based on 15 anticipated outcomes for each of GSUSA’s target age groups, divided into the three theme categories. These outcomes are displayed in Table 1. The objectives were created based on a comprehensive study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute. The report, Change it Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership, lays out the results of the survey which sought to quantify how American children view and experience leadership. The survey confirmed that children hold clear definitions of leadership which centers on the idea of using leadership for social change, which clearly inspired the objective division themes, particularly in the case of “Take Action.” In addition, the survey identified several key areas of concern for the organization that dissuade children from pursuing leadership, including a perceived deficiency in skills the children deem critical to leadership success, which explains the objectives focused on building self- esteem and confidence. 10
  • 11. Table 1 Objective Division One: Discover 1. Girls develop a strong sense of self. 2. Girls develop positive values. 3. Girls gain practice life skills. 4. Girls seek challenges in the world. 5. Girls develop critical thinking. Objective Division Two: Connect 6. Girls develop healthy relationship. 7. Girls promote cooperation and team building. 8. Girls can resolve conflicts. 9. Girls advance diversity in a multi-cultural world. 10. Girls feel connected to their communities, locally and globally. Objective Division Three: Take Action 11. Girls can identify community needs. 12. Girls are resourceful problem solvers. 13. Girls advocate for themselves and others, locally and globally. 14. Girls educate and inspire others to ask. 15. Girls feel empowered to make a difference in the world. Source: Transforming Leadership (GSRI, 2008) Methodology An effective youth leadership development program is dependent on the presence of certain programming elements and clearly stated measurable objectives. By examining best practices in objective setting and program evaluation, as well as research-proven curricular elements, a basic framework for effective leadership development programming can be established. To develop this basic framework, this paper will answer the following questions: What are the integral elements of a successful youth leadership development program? What is the process for a determining the success of a youth leadership development program? The answers to these questions are based primarily on an extensive review of existing research on the topic of youth leadership development, both qualitative research and quantitative studies. Each of the existing studies focus on a specific characteristic of youth leadership or leadership development. 11
  • 12. As the results of these various studies are compiled, a framework of integral programming elements begins to emerge. In addition, the paper will establish a process by which youth leadership development organizations can evaluate the success of the programming they design. The United Way, as a leading resource for non-profit organizations, has developed a process for setting objectives, performance measures and evaluation practices. This paper will take the broad recommendations of the United Way and other performance measurement research to create a process for logic model and performance measure construction specific to youth leadership development. Finally, the paper will compare the integral elements to the youth leadership development programming, as well as the prescribed evaluation process, to the case study of the GSUSA Transforming Leadership program, then make recommendations for improvement. For the purposes of this paper, the term “youth” will be used to describe children who are in middle school and high school, typically ages 12-18. This age range matches the definition of the term used most often in existing literature on the topic. However, the Girls Scouts of the U.S.A. (GSUSA) function on a slightly broader definition. Their programming targets girls from ages 6 to 18 and the GSRI Change it up! survey included boys and girls, ages 8 to 17. Generalizability It is difficult to generalize any steadfast rules to all youth leadership development programs. Each program will have its own unique definition of leadership, target demographics and objectives that will require individual interpretation and adaptation of general guidelines. For this reason, this paper is limited to creating these general guidelines of best practices for youth leadership development programs and providing examples. These examples are in no way to be interpreted as specific requirements for success. Secondly, the lack of research on youth leadership development is a driving force behind this paper, but it also creates a weakness. This paper lacks a quantitative component to prove a correlation between the prescribed programming elements, evaluation techniques and success. Instead, the paper relies on inductive reasoning by creating theories based on results from previous programs and existing research on isolated leadership training components. 12
  • 13. Findings Integral Elements to a Successful Program As established, the first integral element to a successful youth leadership development program is setting a definition of leadership that resonates with the youth the program will serve. Without a clearly defined concept of leadership, the activities of the organization could actually inadvertently work against the goals it holds for the youth (Klau, 2006). Once a concept of leadership has been established, the organization can develop the activities through which they seek to meet the objectives. Many leadership development programs rely on games and ice breakers to teach leadership principles or to help identify those students with natural leadership ability. Not only do these techniques cater to the old leadership ideal of inherited traits and individual management (Roach, 1999) they are simply not enough unless they are directly linked to an established program outcome (Boyd, 2000). For example, an organization may use a low ropes course to promote team building and collaboration. Alone, the activity could help develop group cohesion, but to develop leadership skills that the youth can apply to external situations, the activity must go further. By adding time for reflection at the conclusion of the activity, the program managers can lead the youth in discussion that help the youth connect what they learned during the activity directly to the program’s leadership objectives (Billig, 2000; Boyd, 2000) One of the first challenges an organization must seek to address when planning activities is the youths’ lack of self-confidence. According to the GSRI study, lack of self-confidence is the largest barrier to leadership for young people. Though more than 90% of those surveyed believe anyone can acquire the skills to become a leader, less than 25% feel they currently embody those skills themselves (GSRI, 2008). To successfully train youth to lead, a program must present leadership as an attainable skill for each child. Building the self-esteem to lead is the second integral element of a successful program. Some organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, would suggest that this self-confidence is best built by creating a safe environment in which the youth can experiment with leadership (GSRI, 2008), which may be appropriate for young children. However, as youth reach their teenage years, it becomes necessary to teach leadership in a more realistic setting, one which allows failure and dissent. Without creating realistic leadership scenarios, youth are less likely to carry the skills they learn into real world leadership situations (Boyd, 2000). Sheltering youth from certain challenges to leadership may serve the objective to build self-confidence, but without the exposure to realistic demands and expectations, 13
  • 14. failure in a leadership experience outside of the program is more likely and could be even more devastating to young leaders (Roach, 1999). Furthermore, programs that focus primarily on charismatic and energetic styles of leadership run the risk of creating a false sense of leadership security for students, making them ill-prepared for difficult or contentious leadership scenarios or from tackling tough and uncomfortable issues that arise (Klau, 2006). If the program seeks to address leadership within a specific area of advocacy, leadership as an action must be addressed directly and not as an afterthought. Addressing controversial issues outside of the confines of the program may seem threatening to new leaders if they have not been prepared in realistic leadership training (Boyd, 2000; Klau, 2006). For example, a particular leadership development program may exist to create leaders who will promote diversity and stand up against racial discrimination. The youth may participate in activities that involve discussion about the myths of the racism and the youth may develop very strong feelings against discrimination, but they develop these feelings among others who are like-minded. To create leaders who can be effective in eradicating discrimination, the youth could participate in role playing exercises where some students portray racist individuals. This type of activity would prepare the youth to combat the racist reality that exists outside the walls of the organization (Klau, 2006). Equally as important as the scenarios being realistic, the scenarios must also be age-appropriate. Currently, many youth leadership development programs rely on activities and evaluation techniques that were designed for adult leadership training (Morgan, 2001). As already demonstrated through the stark differences in definitions of leadership, it is not appropriate to generalize from adults to children regarding the subject (Boyd, 2000). Aside from differing ideas surrounding leadership, youth and adults lead in different environments on a daily basis, which negates any generalizations from one group to the other. Adults commonly lead in formal environments, such as a workplace, where leadership positions are bestowed by title and are supported by a fairly rigid organizational structure. Just the opposite, youth are required to creatively negotiate leadership positions among their peers on a case-to-case basis (Roach, 1999). It is not helpful for children to learn a management style leadership technique, when they must practice leadership as collaboration. Even further, as youth begin to age and move into the workforce, they will bring their leadership ideals with them, forcing their workplaces to adapt to the new leadership paradigm (Bennis, 2002). This eventual shift in the workplace makes teaching youth the management style of leadership even more obsolete. 14
  • 15. Service-Learning as a Solution According to the Government Accountability Office, one of the essential elements to a youth development program is youth involvement through experiential learning (GAO, 2008). Experiential learning not only requires a hands-on leadership experience, but also includes a time for reflection on the activity (Boyd, 2000). Service-learning is a type of experiential learning which is growing in popularity among educational circles. Service-learning, as a method of instruction, is a hands-on learning opportunity through which students partake in a community service project that reinforces a connected curriculum. By some definitions, both the student and the recipient of the service must benefit for community service to be considered service-learning (Billig, 2001). Since the contemporary youth vision for leadership is centered on the idea of social change and helping others, service-learning seems a natural fit to provide the hands-on, realistic leadership experience experts recommend. According to the Girl Scout study, though youth want to make a change in the world, they do not feel they have the power to do so (GSRI, 2008). Service-learning offers the students a chance to make an actual impact in their communities and serves as a means to build self-confidence and self-efficacy at the same time (Morgan, 2001). Service-learning also requires the reflection and evaluation elements of the learning process that is commonly accepted as key (Boyd, 2000; Roach, 1999; GAO, 2008). Having youth involved in community service through service-learning is an effective tool for leadership development, but it can be made more effective by allowing students to engage in the planning process for the service projects. By allowing students to have a voice in choosing and planning their service projects, the students experience increased leadership development benefits when compared to simply participating in a project planned by others (Morgan, 2001). Furthermore, allowing youth to take on a planning role in the service project reinforces the idea that leadership is attainable for youth and not only reserved for adults in formal leadership positions (Klau, 2006). Determining Success in Leadership Development Programs The United Way, the preeminent authority on non-profit management, makes one uniform recommendation to all its clients in the throes of the strategic planning process: construct a logic model (United Way, 1996). A logic model is, most simply, a graphical depiction of what an organization plans to accomplish and how it plans to get there. All organizations inherently have a theory on which activities will produce which results. If not, they would have no reason to exist. By constructing a logic 15
  • 16. model, the organizations are able to recognize these theories and determine the most effective path from input to outcome (Hatry, 1999). The first step, as established earlier, requires the organization to decide on the definition of leadership it wishes to pursue. This decision is the keystone of the strategic planning process as this definition of leadership becomes the basis for the overall objective of the program. This statement should be qualitative and comprised of two parts: 1) what the program seeks to produce and 2) the basic plan for reaching the product (Hatry, 1999). GSUSA has successfully identified its leadership objective. The Transforming Leadership program summary clearly states its ultimate outcome as, “Girls lead with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place” (Transforming Leadership, 2008). Fitting into the suggested format, GSUSA seeks to create leadership for the purpose of social change by instilling self-confidence and self-efficacy. Once the organization has decided upon an objective statement, it must determine the means for reaching their goal, the activities and services the program will provide. It is absolutely crucial that the organization designs activities that support the decided objective instead of writing an objective that attempts to encompass existing activities, as providing any activity or service that does not directly support the objective could risk undermining the success of the program as a whole (Klau, 2006). For example, a hypothetical youth leadership program could seek to create leaders who think critically and challenge the status quo, but success of participants could be measured by required to show support for the organization through showing enthusiasm (cheering and clapping) in group events. Though the organization seeks to develop leaders who are independent thinkers, they could unknowingly be rewarding the youth most deeply entrenched in a groupthink mentality. Child Trends Youth Entrepreneurship Program has successfully implemented the activity planning phase of logic model construction. The objective of the Child Trends program is to develop leadership skills in at-risk youth through entrepreneurship and vocational training (Bronte-Tinkew, 2001). Each of the program’s 31 activities is directly linked to the meeting the objective. Some Child Trends activities include:  Educating and training youth to develop and operate a small business  Matching youth with apprenticeship/job shadowing opportunities 16
  • 17.  Providing classes on financial management and principles of economics (Bronte-Tinkew, 2001) By only including activities that directly support reaching the ultimate goal, the organization is able to visually track a student’s course to success at any point along the path of the logic model. Finally, an organization must identify specific and quantitative performance indicators to determine the success of their activities. These indicators will allow the organization to objectively evaluate its performance and make the necessary adjustment to improve its results. For this reason, it is imperative that these indicators are numeric measurements (Hatry, 1999). It is the change in this numeric indicator (an increase in positive results or decrease in negative results) that signifies progress toward goal attainment. The New Hampshire 4-H organization exemplifies the performance indicator process. In its 2009 logic model, the organization provides a list of performance measures for each of its program. The objective for one particular program within the organization is that “youth and adults collaborate and contribute to improve the quality of life in their communities” (University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, 2008). This objective on its own is vague and full of value judgments, making goal attainment difficult to determine. 4-H surveys its participants each year and has developed several numeric indicators which include target percentages of the overall sample. Such indicators include:  Number of youth and adults surveyed who show increased knowledge and skills related to successful community action (Statewide target: 60%)  Number of targeted partnerships, coalitions and groups who report the sharing or acquisition of resources through significant Extension involvement (Statewide target: 35%) (University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, 2008) Each performance indicator should be justified by being directly tied to the objective of one or more program activities (United Way, 1996). New Hampshire 4-H demonstrates the relevance of each indicator by listing each program an indicator measures directly in its logic model. 17
  • 18. Competition for acquisition of grant funding dollars is fierce, particularly in an unhealthy economic environment. Grant makers and other funders continually demand clearer evidence that each dollar is making the impact the organization promises. By constructing a logic model, determining a specific leadership objective and developing relevant activities and clear numeric performance indicators, organizations can provide evidence of success much more clearly, quickly and accurately. Barriers to Implementation Though the results highlight the necessity for implementing changes in programming and evaluation methods, these changes are not without cost, financial and otherwise. Even as the United Way tout logic model and performance measurement construction, they admit it is not an easy process. In fact, the United Way insists that logic model construction should only be attempted by those with experience and organizations without experienced staff should seek outside assistance (United Way, 1996). Naturally, this assistance would typically come at a price. Implementing service-learning activities can also be a costly endeavor. Even a project as simple as picking up trash in a park involves the minimal cost of trash bags and transportation for the youth. More complex projects, like the free community meal, can be quite expensive for the host program. Many smaller programs simply do not have the budget to implement this type of programming and are limited to the smaller service-learning programs they can afford. Conclusions Undoubtedly, a paradigm shift is occurring in the way contemporary youth view leadership. Youth are not interested in the traditional “command-and-control” method of leadership, but rather seek to use leadership as a collaborative group effort to affect social change. A change in the type of leaders youth aspire to become necessitates a similar change in the way these leaders are trained. Under the old definition and paradigm, many youth leadership development programs relied on ice-breaker type games, which encouraged natural leaders to step forward and take charge. The new paradigm requires the types of activities that allow each member of a group to step forward and lead according to their own strengths to accomplish social change. Based on the social change, group oriented definition of leadership, young people are much more concerned with the “what” of leadership than the “who;” What leadership can accomplish is more important than who led the charge. 18
  • 19. Upon critical review of existing youth leadership programming literature, meeting the demands of the new leadership definition requires that programs include a few critical elements, both in the planning the programming and in execution of the activities. First, in the planning stage, the organization must 1) decide on a working definition of leadership; 2) develop activities that drive youth toward the accepted definition; 3) set performance measures that clearly quantify movement toward goal completion. Implications for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A and Similar Organizations In the case of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (GSUSA), the Transforming Leadership program has provided for only one of these elements. GSUSA is very clear on their definition of leadership. Girl Scouts seeks to “build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place” (GSUSA, 2008). To GSUSA, a leader is someone who has confidence in her ability to enact social change and who acts on that ability. Any activities included in the leadership programming, therefore, should support this vision of leadership. Once the definition of leadership has been decided upon, youth leadership development organizations must construct a logic model to ensure that all program activities are properly tied to the desired outcome of creating the organization’s ideal leader (United Way, 1996). For example, reading the journeys books may educate Girl Scouts about many aspects of leadership, but without an active service component, the books alone will fail to address the social change element of GSUSA’s accepted definition of leadership. One problem facing GSUSA is the lack of any programming in the Transforming Leadership initiative. The girls are asked to read the journeys books, but all other activities are open to individual troop interpretation, leaving no uniform activity experience for the girls on a nation-wide level. Without this uniform experience, a defined and comprehensive program, GSUSA will be unable to prove that Transforming Leadership was actually the cause of girls increasing their skills. As competition for grant funding tightens, grant makers will become increasingly demanding that organizations be able to prove their success (United Way, 1996). GSUSA must not only create a list of quantitative performance measures; They must also seek to develop programming beyond moving through the lessons on the new journeys books to prove that their program is the cause of change in the girls. 19
  • 20. As this paper suggests, an ideal means of teaching hands-on leadership development is through the practice of service-learning. By developing a well-defined service-learning program that augments the journeys books, GSUSA could ensure that they are teaching the girls the necessary skills to function as leaders in real-world challenges. The service-learning experience also serves as an experimental treatment around which pre-tests and post-test can be performed. By surveying the girls immediately before the service-learning experience and then again immediately after, GSUSA can demonstrate that it was in fact their programming that caused a change in the girls’ attitudes toward leadership. A simple survey, measuring attitudes toward leadership and aspirations toward leadership roles would help indicate progress toward the program’s goals. Conducting the surveys so close to the activity limits the threat the change occurred due to other outside influences. The pre-test - post-test design will also aid GSUSA and similar organizations in formation of meaningful performance measures. In an unhealthy economy, grant makers will demand higher levels of accountability as competition for grant funding increases. Using survey results to develop quantifiable performance measures will allow GSUSA to prove that the Transforming Leadership program is making an impact in its participants. Making the indicators quantifiable is key to showing actual progress toward a goal (Hatry, 1999). For an example, an outcome, “Girls advocate for themselves and others, globally and locally” is demonstrated through girls “reporting an increased interest and confidence in participating in projects that promote positive social change” (Transforming Leadership, 2008). Instead, the outcome should be phrased using numeric values. Also, self-reporting, especially to adult mentors, can cause youth to exaggerate program impacts (Klau, 2001), making the outcome measure open to manipulation, a risk that should be avoided (Hatry, 1999). A more acceptable outcome indicator would be, “Girls increase participation in positive social change activities from one to five days a month.” GSUSA’s reasons for not having made these steps toward improvement are unclear. Upon review of GSUSA’s annual budget, the financial constraints that limit some smaller youth development organizations do not apply. In fact, GSUSA ends each year with an average budget surplus of $10 million (GSUSA Annual Report, 2007; GSUSA Annual Report, 2006). This amount of money would allow GSUSA to implement any of these programming and evaluation practices to a greater extent than they do currently. 20
  • 21. The Need for Youth Leadership Development Research Contemporary youth are yearning for examples of leadership to follow, but are continually disillusioned by leaders who fall to corruption and scandal (GSRI, 2008). In a time of corporate scandal and political corruption, youth are seeking a new style of leadership that circumvents formal authority and focuses on working together to eliminate social injustice. Some organizations, like GSUSA, are stepping forward to teach these youth the leadership skills they need to meet their goals. These organizations, however, must be able to evaluate their methods and identify success and failure in order to ensure they are accomplishing the goals of their own, but leadership can be a nebulous concept and difficult to quantify. A well-constructed logic model, defined outcomes and quantitative performance indicators are critical to a program’s success. Without explicitly defining anticipated outcomes, the organizations goals are unclear, and without determining specific quantitative performance measures it will be nearly impossible to verify that the organization ever reached it goal. Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of research and meaningful evaluation specifically in regards to youth leadership development programming. Even less research exists since the leadership paradigm shift has occurred. There is a strong temptation to apply the multitude of studies conducted on adult leadership development to youth leadership development. Youth, however, experience leadership in less rigid and formal environments. Adult leadership training does not properly address these needs and desires of contemporary youth. Further Research This paper is limited to the few studies that do exist on youth leadership development and lacks the quantitative element the paper itself promotes as necessary. However, the evaluation of the existing literature on youth leadership development is thorough. In the future, a quantitative study involving several diverse leadership styles should be conducted. This study should seek to evaluate specific confidence building techniques, as well as various types of service-learning projects to more clearly and definitive identify best practices. As organizations begin to adopt quantitative performance measures, they will also need to develop data collection methods such as the survey mentioned above. The results from these surveys will become invaluable to the collective success of youth leadership development programs. The results can be used to help determine much more specific best practices. 21
  • 22. Furthermore, research should be conducted to determine ways to minimize the effects of the barriers to implementation. Since the barriers are centered on financial limitations, it would be helpful to combine research on youth leadership development with research on non-profit fundraising to create a more specific set of best practices. Youth leadership development programs could then implement this fundraising practices to make the most effective service-learning projects a reality, regardless of the cost. 22
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  • 24. United Way of America. (1996). Measuring Program Outcomes: A Practical Approach. Alexandria: United Way of America. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. (2008). Logic Model. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from UNH 4-H Logic Model: http://extension.unh.edu/Intranet/documents/4Hydlm.pdf 24