About our blog post author: Jeremy King, SPHR:  Serves as business development manager at FlashPoint, an Indianapolis-based human resource and business consulting firm. Jeremy oversees the company’s marketing efforts and often spends time on the road, attending conferences, speaking at meetings, or representing FlashPoint at industry events. In addition to managing business development, Jeremy builds and delivers training to clients and assists with other projects. He has worked for more than eleven years in the industry, with experience starting and running his own training and development firm. Jeremy holds a bachelor’s degree in management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University–Indianapolis. He is on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis and for IndySHRM. He also serves on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s ChamberAction committee and on Special Olympics Indiana’s special events support team.

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I can list several things that I love about my role at FlashPoint, but working in a culture that supports and encourages us to volunteer in our local community is my favorite. I have been to events where I’ve met powerful CEOs, politicians, and local celebrities—heck, I even got to chat with Peyton Manning at a Peyback Foundation event—but my passion is working with kids.

As a member of the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis, I assist with a program called the Builders Club at IPS #56; there my fellow members and I work with middle school students to help them learn about leadership, community involvement, and service. As the business adviser for this group of future leaders, I have the opportunity to talk to them about topics that I feel are important. During the election of officers a few weeks ago, I noticed that all of the candidates referenced having “good leadership” so I decided that I’ll talk to them about leadership at one of the upcoming meetings. Choosing this topic was the easy part. What I’m going to actually say is the million-dollar question.

I plan to keep it simple by telling them of a few myths:

Myth #1Leaders are born. In a sense, leaders are born because everyone is born. But leadership is not about talents as much as it is about your behavior. It is how you “show up” each day.

Myth #2Leaders are charismatic. While being charismatic doesn’t really hurt you, it is more important to be trustworthy, visionary, and a good person. Remember, Hitler was charismatic.

Myth #3Titles make you a leader. A leader is simply someone who can get others to follow him or her. It does not matter what your title is; it matters if you are respected, trusted, and followed.

I also plan to discuss what makes a good leader:

Be Trustworthy—Do what you say you will do.

Have Vision—Don’t think only about today; think about your future and base your decisions on that.

Model the Way—Set a good example for others to follow.

Set Goals—Understand that the difference between a dream and a goal lies in writing it down. If you don’t have a goal, how do you know where you are going?

Be a Good Person—Recognize that people will eventually see who is a good person and who is not. We generally do not follow bad people for the long term.

I’d like to tell these kids so much more about leadership, but I want to keep it simple with the hope that they’ll remember the lesson and think about their behavior on a daily basis.

What would you tell an 8th grader about leadership?