Ever mindful that innovative spirits and creative thinkers are starting earlier and earlier, I bring an update on the now 11-year-old, and how he (and other youth around the world) are already leveraging and displaying some of the top ten leadership traits for innovation, as shared by Harvard Business Reviewhttps://hbr.org/2014/12/research-10-traits-of-innovative-leaders. (December 2014)
My observations started out as they usually do…me dipping in on conversations, trying to be an observant and conscientious parent when it comes to my children’s internet usage (but still outwardly show trust as they grow into young adults). This is especially challenging when there are things like Xbox Live and super high tech headsets, with evolving technology offering awesome and open access to a bigger world than any of us grew up in. That’s both good and bad, and just as there are playground bullies we warn our children about, we need to be just as cautious and instructive about the dangers and hazards they face online.
Unlike a lot of other people, I actually believe there is a lot to be gained and learned by kids in using the internet, with virtual communities, globally diverse friends from other countries, and working around challenging time zones. Because while they think it’s all fun and games, I think something far more powerful is going on. They are developing key business skills necessary to become successful leaders. Leaders, who will have already internalized fundamental building blocks of leadership early on, thus setting them up for greater success in life.
My deeper insights into this happened the other day, when I was listening to my son lead a team on his headset, playing Call of Duty, with a globally diverse team (Australia, US, and Asia, just to name a few).
As I listened to the conversation, it was immediately clear that my son was the “host” or leader of the team, tasked to take them through a tough terrain, with the aim of moving past the “Easter Egg” (no clue what that means, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll just call that the desired results/outcome for the team).
I found remarkable similarities between what he demonstrated specific to innovative leadership qualities, and what it takes to run a successful team…even in a virtual environment, with a globally diverse team. The logistics of time zones seem non-existent and they seemed to have conquered what we all struggle with in juggling calls to accommodate all team members. In this particular case, I will admit that I have had to pull the wireless router at bedtime, so that he isn’t on a call with Australia in the middle of the night! But they follow the sun and somehow make it work, as each are getting up for school, getting ready for bed, or just getting off the bus.
I often hear parents and older generations complain about how easy this generation of kids has it and how they rely too much on technology and indoor play…useless video games. I respectfully disagree. As with all things, I believe there is a balance. And they need to be kids and play outside and ride bikes. But I consider “the times we live in today” to be an incredible opportunity for our children to build out skillsets like how to work in a virtual environment, inspire team members, leverage technology to do more, and collaborate globally with a super-sized “neighborhood” of diversity of culture and thought.
Very few would disagree that we are living in an environment of technology, exponentially growing every day, and that the competition to stay ahead or even current is fierce.
Consider this comparison of a few of the HBR Top Ten Traits cited and a global match and conversation I listened in on, with a young, but energetic team, seeking to collaborate and complete a mission on Call of Duty:
HBR: Create a climate of reciprocal trust.
“Dude, I’ve got you. I’ve got you…Don’t worry.”
“I am coming now. I will be there in a minute and I will help you.”
HBR: Put their faith in a culture that magnifies upward communication.
“Dude, that is sic. We have to have a dance party. I’m taking a screen shot of this.
I never thought we were going to beat it. Guys, we did it!”
HBR: Are persuasive.
“We started that match off really well. We just have to keep it up a little longer.”
HBR: Are candid in their communication.
“I’m sorry. I was trying to help.”
HBR: Inspire and motivate through action.
“Dude, thanks for even getting us this far together. Thank you so much for helping us” (thanks team at least 3x after achieving goal as a team and moving ahead to the next challenge).
These are the armchair warriors, who will become captains of industry. They are taking a “learn as you go” approach, developing seamless efficiency in the use of wireless headsets and other connectivity to bring people together in new and different ways. These early lessons will keep them all ahead of the game…learning while no one is watching. Kind of like when they eat their vegetables, without realizing they are actually good for them.