Let’s learn from our Young Leaders

Some days I have to pinch myself to make sure the work I do is not a dream! I grow Leaders; both the young and not-so-young variety.

Each ‘variety’ of leader have their own qualities that make them special. I reckon the not-so-young variety of leaders can learn a few things from the young ‘seedlings’ out there.

I recently had the pleasure of working alongside children and teachers at Hikutaia School on the Hauraki Plains in the North Island of NZ. I have been working with them for a couple of years now, developing learner agency. 

During a recent visit, I witnessed their Thinking Thursday programme. (This is not to say they don’t think on the other days of the week!). During this time the students were involved in a variety of S.T.E.A.M-related activities such as making catapults to see how far they could fling mini plastic people, long and windy contraptions for balls to roll through at speed, models of planets, toothpick and chopped-up swimming pool tube creations to name just a few! Teachers and students were discovering alongside each other, conversations were flowing, questions asked and there was lots of thinking!

One particular thing that was evident was the way the ‘seedling leaders’ just got stuck-in! They were fearless!! There was dough and glue for Africa, there was trial and (many) errors…then re-trials. There was joy, despair and grit all mixed-up in an emotional-intelligence melting-pot. There was incredible and deep LEARNING!

These students just did it! They abandoned any sense of having to ‘get-it-right the first time’, they took a playful approach to their learning, they helped each-other-out, they encouraged each other, they questioned and they embraced the mis-takes and learned from them. 

It’s funny really, we often use the term ‘student’ or ‘learner’ when we speak of those we teach… How about we turn the tables a moment and look at what they have to teach us?

You see, I hear many not-so-young leaders espousing this is what you want for your developing leaders… but how many of you are actually modelling that yourselves?

What if you were to become fearless?

What if you approached things with a lightheartedness?

What if you became more inquisitive?

What if you just ‘gave-it-a-go’?

And furthermore… How many of us are empowering this growth in others within the systems and structures we create?

Are you seeking innovation, yet dictate the details?

Are you wanting questioners, yet really just want your answers back at you?

Do you want to create a playfulness and inquisitiveness to work, yet take things just a little too seriously?

Do you want people to foster resiliency and grit, yet rescue them when they get ‘stuck’?


So this week, let’s look to our young leaders for learning and inspiration. Let’s also do a bit of a self-check as to how we might be getting in the way of both becoming and developing fearless leaders?


Some of the “Thinking Thursday” antics of the inspirational Hikutaia School learners… 

(With permission)





Need a speaker?

There are plenty of speakers to choose from. I am not the norm. You won’t be bored to tears by the same ole’ approach and dribble. How about bringing Mary-Anne for the conference or all-staff day.

Give me a stage and I’ll own it. Give me a room and I’ll energise it. Give me your people and I’ll inform and inspire them. 

Need virtual delivery – no sweat! I have facilitated virtual full and half-day workshops, virtual keynote speaking at online conferences, and might I say, you still get the Mary-Anne goodness you deserve!

More details here


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Mary-Anne

I want to help you and your organisation.
Tell me what you need, and I’ll be in touch real soon.

Yeah, you're ready to Level-Up your Leadership

Enter your details and we'll be in touch when new dates are announced.