Young leaders aim high

High school juniors learned about teamwork and how to develop their own leadership strengths Monday at the annual conference for the National Council on Youth Leadership.

Approximately 80 students from Webster City, Eagle Grove, Bishop Garrigan, Humboldt, Southeast Webster Grand, South Central Calhoun, Algona, Pocahontas Area, Manson Northwest Webster, St. Edmond and Fort Dodge high schools attended the daylong seminar at the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building at Iowa Central Community College.

For the second year in a row, the seminar was led by Craig Hillier, of Winning Edge Seminars.

“Today we’ve been doing a lot about teamwork,” Hillier said. “They’re going to get a chance to take an inventory that looks at their strengths, weaknesses, how they connect with some people, and how they maybe disconnect with other people.

“We have a tendency to want to hang out with people that are only like us, but we need to branch out. A lot of it has been about broadening your perspective.”

To come to the seminar, the students were nominated within their schools, said local NCYL Coordinator Pam Bunte. They had to fill out an application and write an essay before being invited to attend.

Later, the students will complete an interview, which they can think of as a job interview, Bunte said. The top six students based on interviews and essays will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the four-day Town Meeting of Tomorrow in St. Louis.

“Iowa Central has been a big partner in this,” Bunte said. “They donated the space today, the T-shirts, and the food.”

One of the afternoon exercises had students form groups of four and try to build the tallest tower out of tape and plastic straws in only 10 minutes. The winning team was given free books.

Afterwards Hillier led the students in talking about the challenges they had faced, such as working efficiently, communication, and design.

The students filled out questionnaires to define their leadership style in one of four categories marked by the acronym TEAM: togetherness, enterpriser, analyzer, or motivator. Hillier discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each category.

Togetherness people are represented by a stethoscope, he said, because they have big hearts. Enterprisers are like a telescope, with their big ideas that others don’t see; analyzers are like a microscope and think through all the details; motivators are like a kaleidoscope.

In the morning, Hillier discussed goal-setting and how to make clear, step-by-step plans on how to reach goals.

“This is a great group of kids,” Hillier said. “They’re really wrapping their arms around this stuff, good energy, good insight.

“I was just out in the hallway at lunch, and it’s fun for me t connect off the stage. They’ll share some things about, this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m working on.”

The best part, he said, is when he gets emails from kids afterwards saying thank you.