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A Leadership Program That Makes a Difference Published: Sunday, October 9, 2011 8:00 am By: Rafael Ríos, Executive Vice President

I recently started a research project to prepare a new educational and training model on leadership. Talk about a saturated theme, I found more that 70,900 books in Amazon alone. I found more than 4000 leadership development programs. There were servant leaders, principle centered leaders ,  leadership laws, transformational leaders, emotionally intelligent leader situational leaders, visionary leaders, just to name the very tip of the iceberg.

Then I found an article about a leadership program that was claiming to consistently transform participants and achieve results.  I kept digging a little deeper and found a list of participants. Wow I was completely impressed. Actually I was deeply overwhelmed. I knew of the program but I would have never though so many successful leaders had acquired many of their leadership skills in the program. The list was a who’s who of leaders who made a difference in their companies, communities and their country. Let me provide you with a partial list.

Nelson Mandela Political Prisoner & Former President of South Africa, William Clinton- President of the United States and Governor of Arkansas, Gerald Ford 38th President of the U.S., Bill Alexander U.S. Representative from Arkansas, Sir Paul McCartney – Singer, Steven Spielberg- Film Director/Producer, William Bennett - Former Secretary of Education, Bill Bradley - Pro basketball star and U.S. Senator from New Jersey, Milton Caniff - Comic Strip Artist "Steve Canyon," James Lovell Astronaut, Dr. Anna Fisher. Astronaut, J.J. Pickle U.S. Representative from Texas, Harrison Salisbury - Pulitzer Prize winning Author, Harrison Ford - Actor, William Sessions - Former FBI Director, Barbara Walters – Commentator, News Anchor,  Dorothy Hamil- skating, Candice Bergen – Actress, Corinne Boggs- Congresswoman from Louisiana,  Marilyn Lloyd, Congress. from Tenn.,  Millicent Fenwick, Cong. from New Jersey, Percy Sutton, Chairman of CBS, William C. DeVries- M.D. Transplanted first artificial heart, Walter Cronkite Journalist - T.V. commentator, J. Willard Marriott, Jr. - President, Marriott Corporation, H. Ross Perot - Chairman, EDS Corp., Henry "Hank" Aaron - Baseball Superstar, Mark Spitz - Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer,  Peter Ueberroth, Former Commissioner of Baseball, Steve Young-NFL Quarterback Commentator, David Beckham – Footballer, Andrew Murray – Tennis Player

Former participant, Political Prisoner & Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela said that this development program is world leader in preparing participants. It inspires people to be loyal to the organizations they belong to.  It promotes sound moral values, courage, character-building, self-reliance and community awareness. It also motivates people to achieve their full potential.

After seeing this list I became quite interested in the program. This Leadership Development program has three aims, The first is to Develop Character. This aim  builds self-reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect. The participants learn how improve themselves, their qualities, their values, and their outlook on life.

The second aim is citizenship. This aim focuses on nurturing respect of, participation in, contribution and caring for self, family, community, nation and world while fostering a commitment of service to others and the organization. Citizenship refers to the participants’ relationship to others - their obligations and contribution to people and to the society they live in.

The final aim is personal wellness. This aim encourages participants to develop life-long physical, mental, emotional, and moral wellness. Wellness includes a healthy strong body, a mind able to imagine and reason, and a spirit of courage, caring, and self-control.

This proven leadership development program is built upon a core set of ideals and values. As the participants demonstrate, through actions and what they call deeds, the internalization of these, they will progress successfully. The participants measure themselves against these ideals and continuously try to improve. The goals are highly challenging and as they reach them they assume control over what and who they are becoming.

The ideals are simple. Do your best in everything that you do. Your actions speak for themselves. Lead by example.

The second ideal is to be prepared to meet any challenge. Participants should be ready and able to do what is necessary in any situation that comes along. Be prepared to make a difference.

The values or what they call the law is quite enlightening. I will only mention a few:

TRUSTWORTHY, LOYAL , HELPFUL, FRIENDLY, COURTEOUS, KIND, OBEDIENT, CHEERFUL,THRIFTY, BRAVE, CLEAN and REVERENT.

You see what I call a Leadership Development Program most people call Scouting.  

My friends the track record is clear, this process builds Leaders and citizens ready to contribute to make a defense in our society. This is the farm club of the future leaders of our communities, our corporations and our country. At an early age in life they are being taught and provided with experiences that will develop those core competencies that all leaders should possess.

But let’s look at those values once again. Aren’t these the values that that we want in our society. We have a tool that has evolved in the last 100 years with a proven track record. What can we learn from the scouting blue print that can be applied in our education system, in our organizations in our communities?

Imagine learning to become good law abiding citizens in a fun filled outdoors environment, learning how to assume responsibility by participating as a team member in a camping expedition, learning how to respect the world around us when we go to summer camp, or leaning that we can all make a difference by participating in a service project dealing with the homeless.  ect. ect. ect.

In scouting leadership development starts incrementally at the age of 8. It culminates at the age of 15 or 16.

We really believe that this movement or similar ones can be one more tool that can be used to deal with the very serious and complex problems of our organizations and society.

At the end of a day we all have a responsibility; We can all make a difference, one small step at a time.

That’s Leadership, And That’s what it’s all about.


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