Roots & Wings Online

Modeling Leadership for Young People

Consider these five actions you can take to model leadership and mentor young people to help them develop valuable skills and experience.

By David Robertson

An election year presents an opportunity to connect with the young people in our lives and community. We can model empowering habits and skills to serve our children and young people we influence positively.

Some skills will prove essential for young people to succeed in a new era of business and society. These include flexibility and adaptability and the ability to work cooperatively with those who are different from us in thinking, experiences, and perspectives. Having a growth mindset allows one to learn and grow; by contrast, complaining and focusing on an impasse and what can't be done leave us dead in the water.

Young people desperately need positive role models who exemplify accountability, responsibility, generosity, mindfulness, kindness, and community participation. Consider ways you can model positive leadership and positively impact our community.

1) Start with Gratitude 
A great starting point is to focus on what we appreciate about our community. Making a list on paper with a young person gets everyone away from the screen and into face-to-face interaction. Discussing 'why' each item made the list and is important allows us to learn something new about each other, and to identify core values. This exercise opens the door to connecting with our teens in a meaningful way. 

2) Stay Informed 
Each Thursday, Ladera Happenings includes easy-to-scan briefs with the latest news and updates from your master homeowner association on projects and announcements and the community services department with events, recreation programs, and more. Look for Roots and Wings magazine, which is mailed to homes quarterly, and visit Take time to read these updates with your children and help make the connection between staying informed and actively participating in the community. 

Go broader and sign up for Supervisor Katrina Foley’s newsletter. Supervisor Foley serves as Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Orange, representing residents in south Orange County.

3) Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking is a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Make a list of things that your family members would like to improve, and create a list of as many solutions as possible, no matter how far-fetched the idea may be. Kenneth Robinson, education advisor and author of The Element says that we tend to become less creative in problem-solving as we age. By fostering divergent thinking, our teens become better creative problem-solvers. It instills the value and importance of being solution-oriented and a problem-solver and recognizes that simply complaining doesn't change anything. 

4) Volunteering
Taking the time to volunteer helps solve the issue of entitlement in young people. Why? Because volunteering is about serving others. When we serve others, we see things through a new lens, which gives us a new perspective. Being able to understand others' perspectives is a valuable discipline that can have a positive impact on our personal relationships, careers, problem-solving, and business. Ladera Ranch Community ServicesLions HeartThe Nature Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo, and other organizations offer young people opportunities to volunteer locally.

5) Active Participation
One of the benefits for young people participating in their community is meeting terrific people. These are often genuine people making positive contributions that benefit the lives of our neighbors. Good things happen when young people actively step up, lean in, and participate in their community. Ladera Ranch residents can start new clubs, attend homeowner meetings, volunteer at community events, and get involved in clubs at school.

Photo: Anthony Guiso and his daughter Gabby are Ladera Ranch residents. Anthony served as a volunteer on the LARCS Event Planning Committee and a Ranch Hand for many years. One of the many things that Anthony mentors Gabby on is being an entrepreneur and operating a business.