The United States Military Academy teaches leadership formally and used to address leadership in a couple of different categories.

  • Leadership at the Individual System Level
  • Leadership at the Group System Level
  • Leadership at the Organization System Level

For now, I’ll ignore small groups and organizational leadership because I think that tends to be more appropriate for adults. Here is the scope of competencies needed for leading yourself. This is a big job with kids that needs repetition like advertising. One time exposure is not enough for kids to learn this well enough to apply it. Whether you call this a Competencies Framework or learning objectives or performance objectives, these items are important to teach and have practiced.

Lead-Yourself Objectives for Kids

Build character

  • Read stories of strong character (provides examples in context)
  • Have adults surrounding the child model strong character

Develop sound judgment

  • Teach and model classical values (for example, Christians use biblical values)
  • Reason critically (teach critical thinking, problem solving, decision making skills)
  • Reason and Lead ethically (role play with kids)
  • Be aware of ethical and moral dilemmas and make right choices (role play with kids)
  • Questions facts and assumptions (role play with kids)

Apply Courage

  • Confidence to say “I don’t know” and then find out

Orient to the best in us all

  • Build empathy for others
  • Accentuate the positive
  • Nurture abundance thinking patterns over scarcity patterns
  • Recognizes the worth of each individual
  • Be optimistic about people

Build confidence

  • Be confident enough to convince people that you can lead
  • Be humble enough to realize that you are often going to be wrong

Anticipate consequences to choices

  • Anticipate 2nd and 3rd order effects of actions and decisions

Take ownership / accountability

  • Avoid blaming
  • Develop a sense of responsibility

Influence peers more than you are influenced by them

This can be hard for teens trying to fit in.


  • Keep pressing on despite setbacks or failures
  • Persistent in face of continuing obstacles

Understand the impact of own behavior on others

Develop and maintain emotional “fitness” or strength

  • Watch for kids with anger issues/fits (highlights emotional literacy improvements needed)
  • Improve emotional literacy
    • Self awareness
      • Perceive emotion, changing moods, decide to be aware
      • Monitor own emotions
        • Recognize their impact on others
      • Discriminate between different emotions
        • Label them appropriately
        • Vocabulary to name emotions (language of feelings)
        • Know the difference between “I need” and “I want”
        • Play emotional charades
        • Keep a feelings journal
    • Empathy
      • Consider other people’s feelings when making decisions
      • Empathy is key to caring supportive relationships
    • Social Effectiveness
      • Use persuasion and influence
      • Recognize power dynamics
      • Use harmony and collaboration
      • Use non-verbal communication to connect emotionally with others
      • Use verbal communication to connect emotionally with others
        • Tone of voice
        • Timing and pace of the conversation
        • Avoid sarcasm, anger, name calling, and why questions
        • Use playful communication to relax
        • Stay focused in the present
      • Monitor other’s emotions
        • Pick up on emotional cues
        • Subtle facial expressions
    • Regulate emotions
      • Control own emotions and behavior to avoid negative impact on others
      • Learn how to recognize and relieve stress
      • Adapting to changing circumstances
      • Accept personal responsibility for own reactions to change
      • Control or redirect impulsive feelings and behaviors
      • Chose to be a good, kind person and loving
      • Know hardest times (tired, hungry, lonely)
    • Decide not to be a victim
      • Listening does not mean I agree
      • It is not about winning
      • What you say about me says nothing about me. It only tells me about you.
  • Stay cool under pressure
  • Quickly recover from difficult situations
  • Exemplify resilience
  • Hear difficult feedback (hard for kids, make sure they know you love them before this)

Use self awareness to monitor and adjust their actions

Demonstrate initiative

  • Is comfortable in unexpected situations
  • Take action without direction
  • Align efforts with higher level goals
  • Be proactive


  • Scan the environment, identify conditions, and adjust
  • Apply plan-do-check-adapt pattern
  • Respond to situational changes and evolving trends
  • Learn the lessons of experience
  • Recognize when what others have done is not an effective solution and make new solutions
  • Take appropriate action

Personally apply teamwork

Begin with the end in mind (Covey content)

First things first

  • Mental creation before physical creation (plans before action)
  • Clarify objectives and intent

Make ethical choices

  • Discern right from wrong (role play with kids)

Use time effectively (hard for kids)

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KW Lanham



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