San Antonio, TX--Times have changed, life moves fast and while children today grow up quickly it's important that they grow up smart; that's how educator and motivational speaker Fran Kick sees it.

Kick, who taught senior leadership courses at Wilmington College and has a B.A. in Music Education and an M.A. in Educational Psychology, has been teaching and counseling since 1995. But he is best known as a motivational speaker. This week he visited San Antonio to present a message to a group of community leaders and educators attending the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. His message was "the more you put into something, the more you get out of it and leadership is no exception."

He encouraged his fellow CLEs to take an opportunity to share their ideas and best practices--taking advantage of the collective wisdom to help young adults who could benefit greatly from it.

"Early impressions are important to young people," he explained. "What was your first job the teacher selected you for in school? Cleaning the black boards, being a hall monitor, running an errand--something with a position of authority? And sometimes you got to pick a friend to take--and everyone wanted you to pick them. Your first impression of leadership is about being more important than other people, and about doing favors for friends. That's not what leadership is about."

He used several examples to illustrate that there is a difference in someone understanding the practice of leadership verses practicing their understanding of leadership, and he pointed out the difference in leading verses having a title or position.

Good community leaders and educators and can help guide young adults, Kick said, and help them learn good life skills like leadership. He said one way to help today's youth is by being a positive example and "listening" to how young people describe and interpret their lives.

"Many people talk about the importance of being a role model but young adults need, crave and deserve more than just talk," Kick explained. "They need to 'see it' before they can 'be it.'"

He added that the importance of listening to how young people describe their lives is even more important from their late-teens through twenties because it is at that point they are highly self-reflective, thinking about who they are and considering what they want out of life.

"Having a listening-mentor guide you as you work your way toward accepting responsibility for yourself, making your own decisions, and becoming financially independent is a huge help," he said. "Not (someone who will) tell you what to do, but how to think things through, process what's happening, and perhaps--when needed--help you reframe your perceptions and priorities."

It's precisely because of his belief in role models and helping young people learn how to think that Kick became an advocate for Army ROTC.

"My first interaction with the Army ROTC, educationally speaking, came as a result of the U.S. Army's involvement with the Music for All Summer Symposium," Kick said. "The inspiring thing was to see such a profoundly similar approach to leadership development in action. I've seen way too many college leadership retreats where the students spent more time sitting and listening than doing and leading."

Kick explained that in the distant past, leadership development focused on "what to think" which was fine in a world that was not changing as fast as it is today. At that time, teaching cause and effect methodology--"do this and you get that"--was reinforced by what people experienced.

"If we know that tomorrow's leaders will be dealing with a world that's filled with problem-solving, constantly-changing, uncertain-reality-based situations, 'how to think' might be a more valuable approach," Kick said. "The foundational skills and experiences needed to develop future leaders cannot be developed just sitting-and-listening.

These are concepts Army ROTC relies on for leadership education and that, he added, is how ROTC makes sense to him as a development tool.

"ROTC is a real-world, active-learning, leadership accelerator for many young adults," Kick explained. "You get to grow and experience working in the world with a more mature focus on what needs to get done."

He added that for Cadets to work in situations that are mission-critical, require teamwork, and are constantly changing is one way ROTC brings so many leadership lessons to life.

"(That experience) sets you on a trajectory of success with skills, capabilities and experiences few adults get even later on in life," he explained.

For a good leader, Kick said there is more to working together then simply getting what you want, or telling people what to do. He said businesses and organizations need leaders who are willing to listen to others, and not recite sound bites.

"Leadership excellence," he added, "is ultimately about application, making things happen, learning from experiences and being a 24/7/365 example for others to follow."

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