Episode 6 | Student Leadership Development

Dec. 7, 2017

Show Notes:

In this episode of Catch Up With Chuck, Chuck is joined by Lindsay Hastings, who serves as the Clifton Professor in Mentoring Research and the Director of Nebraska Human Resources Institute (NHRI).

They will be discussing the power of mentoring as the foundation of programs like RFI Student Serviceship and the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. The Rural Futures Institute believes in people’s capacity to shape their own futures.

NHRI is a development organization at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln that pairs outstanding college student leaders with outstanding K-12 student leaders in one-to-one leadership mentoring relationships.

Quick Links:

Full Transcript:

[0:05] Welcome to Catch Up With Chuck [0:06] from the Rural Futures Institute [0:08] at the University of Nebraska. [0:10] I’m Chuck Schroeder, [0:11] I’m the Executive Director of the Institute. [0:14] And today we’re gonna be talking about [0:16] the power of mentoring, [0:18] and some very important research behind it. [0:21] The key to positive rural futures, [0:23] we believe, [0:24] is capable, positive, rural leaders. [0:28] And the rural futures institute wants to be in the business [0:31] of developing and empowering leaders like that [0:36] to help serve rural. [0:39] Joining me today is Dr. Lindsay Hastings. [0:42] Lindsay is the Clifton Professor of Mentoring Research [0:45] at the University of Nebraska. [0:47] She’s a faculty member [0:49] in the Agriculture Leadership Education [0:53] and Communications Department. [0:55] And she is also the Executive Director [0:58] of the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, [1:00] which is a very unique leadership development program, [1:03] here at the University of Nebraska, [1:04] that has yielded, really, some amazing results.

[1:08] So, Lindsay’s been a collaborator [1:10] with the Rural Futures Institute [1:13] on a couple of our projects. [1:14] And we think that her research and teaching [1:18] are particularly relevant to RFI, [1:21] because it supports our fundamental belief [1:26] that people and people working in community [1:29] can, indeed, help determine their own futures. [1:33] So, Lindsay, welcome. [1:35] Thanks. Glad to have you here. [1:37] So, listen. [1:38] You were born in rural Nebraska, [1:40] but you’ve had a very interesting pathway [1:44] to your role in now really developing [1:47] the next generation of leaders [1:49] here at the University of Nebraska. [1:51] Give us a little context about where you come from [1:54] and how you got here.

[1:55] Sure. [1:56] Well, I’m originally from Palisade, Nebraska. [1:58] Very proud of my ranching roots there. [2:00] But grew up in Lincoln, [2:02] went to high school in Colorado. [2:03] Played a lot of volleyball, [2:04] showed some Quarter Horses. [2:05] Then I went to Texas A&M University [2:08] to study mechanical engineering. [2:10] I thought I wanted to design fitness equipment [2:12] for female athletes. [2:14] So, actually, I transferred up to the University of Nebraska [2:16] to work with Boyd Epley and Husker Power. [2:19] Through that experience, [2:20] and through my experience with NHRI as a student, [2:23] I decided I wanted to work with students as a teacher. [2:25] So, I changed my major to math, [2:27] had a teaching certificate. [2:28] Then while I was student teaching, [2:30] I realized that I was more interested in leadership [2:33] than linear equations. [2:35] So, I decided to start a master’s degree program [2:38] in leadership education. [2:39] During that time, the Associate Director for NHRI [2:42] took a position at Gallup, [2:43] and so I was offered that position. [2:45] Then in 2008, the Director for NHRI was hired, [2:48] and I took over her position, [2:50] and started a PhD program. [2:52] And then a husband and two kids, [2:54] two horses, a dog, [2:55] and a partridge in a pear tree later, [2:57] here we are in 2017.

[2:59] Well, you have really been an impact player [3:03] as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska, [3:05] and touched an awful lot of lives. [3:06] So, we’re glad to be having this conversation today. [3:10] So, let’s get into that. [3:11] Let’s talk about a couple of things [3:13] from you research and teaching portfolio, [3:16] that we think are especially relevant [3:19] to the Rural Futures Institute. [3:21] First, your research in mentoring and generativity, [3:26] a term that maybe a little bit foreign [3:28] to some of our audience. [3:30] But those things have had you presenting to audiences [3:34] ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation [3:37] at their annual convention, [3:38] you’ve done Ted Talks, [3:40] you were recently lecturing [3:44] at the International Leadership Association [3:48] in Brussels, Belgium. [3:50] What is it about your work [3:52] that is appealing to such a broad variety of audiences?

[3:55] Great question. [3:56] Well, generativity sounds like a made up word. [3:58] But I assure you it’s not. [3:59] It refers to the care and concern one has [4:01] for establishing and guiding the next generation. [4:04] What’s interesting about generativity, [4:07] is that it’s largely been considered [4:09] a midlife construct. [4:10] So, what that means, [4:11] is that decades of research have indicated [4:13] that people tend to peak in their ability to be generative [4:17] when they’re middle-aged. [4:18] Young adults are not regarded as being highly generative. [4:21] Now, in some respects this makes sense. [4:23] We’re middle-aged. [4:24] We’re coaching Little League, [4:25] we’re on the PTA. [4:26] We’re doing a lot of generative things. [4:28] Young adults are regarded as being more altruistic [4:31] than generative. [4:32] Young adults are more likely to do [4:34] the one time active service [4:35] than necessarily spending years building something [4:38] in a generative capacity. [4:40] What’s interesting about generativity though, [4:42] is that it’s the predictor of social responsibility. [4:45] And this emerged out of Alice Rossi’s work in 2001, [4:48] with her comprehensive midlife study. [4:51] Now, so, what that means, [4:52] is that the more a person cares about establishing [4:55] and guiding the next generation, [4:56] the more likely they are to spend their time and money [4:59] building a strong family, a strong workplace, [5:01] and a strong community.

[5:02] Okay, so why does this matter, [5:03] especially to rural communities? [5:05] Well, the United States is poised to experience [5:07] its largest transfers of wealth and leadership [5:09] in its history. [5:10] Between now and 2060– [5:11] We always talk about wealth, [5:12] we sometimes forget about leadership. [5:14] Yeah. [5:15] So, between now and 2060, [5:17] we’ll transfer 75 trillion, expected, [5:20] from older generations to younger generations. [5:22] What’s interesting is that this is not just a wealth issue. [5:25] Right now, over 56% of management occupations [5:28] are currently being held by individuals aged 45 and older. [5:31] So, what that means [5:32] is we would not only transfer 75 trillion, [5:35] we will also transfer over half [5:36] of all management occupations. [5:38] So, what that means, [5:39] is we can’t afford to wait for young adults [5:41] to become middle-aged, [5:42] before socially responsible leadership [5:43] will be demanded of them. [5:45] They will be taking on senior leadership roles earlier, [5:47] so we need to know what develops generativity, [5:50] and, therefore, social responsibility earlier. [5:52] We studied that with our NHRI students. [5:55] We looked to see, [5:56] okay, college student leaders who mentor, [5:57] are they more generative than their peers. [5:59] And the results of our research indicated that, [6:01] indeed, college student leaders who mentor [6:03] are more generative than general college students, [6:05] and therefore more likely to be socially responsible. [6:09] So, what does this mean for rural communities? [6:10] If we know mentoring has something to do with generativity, [6:13] which has something to do with social responsibility, [6:15] I think as rural communities [6:17] author a strategy for developing [6:18] their next generation of leaders, [6:20] I think mentoring needs to be a key component [6:22] of that strategy.

[6:24] Makes perfect sense. [6:25] And we know that young adults, [6:28] we hear in various surveys, [6:31] are looking for communities [6:33] where they can come build a business, [6:37] build their family, [6:38] in a place where they can make a difference. [6:40] And what you’re saying is that your data says [6:43] they can make a difference [6:45] if they’re well prepared and come to that community, [6:48] saying, “Hey, this is part of who I am.” [6:51] in building that community. [6:53] Well, listen. [6:55] Let’s also get into your real world, [7:00] one-on-one, [7:01] capacity building work [7:03] with the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, [7:06] very unique leadership development program. [7:07] And you’re not just teaching them how to conduct a meeting [7:11] or how to command a brigade, [7:13] you really are helping develop young people [7:16] who will maximize not only their own potential, [7:19] based upon their strengths, [7:20] but help others to do likewise. [7:23] So, give us a little history of NHRI, [7:28] and then what you’re doing today [7:30] to build this generation of leaders through that work.

[7:33] Sure. [7:34] NHRI is about 70 years old. [7:36] It was started by positive psychology fathers, [7:39] Dr. William Hall and Dr. Donald Clifton. [7:42] We are the only strengths-based leadership mentoring program [7:45] of our kind in the country. [7:47] What we do is we identify [7:48] and select outstanding college student leaders, [7:50] and then we pair them in one-to-one relationships [7:53] with outstanding K12 student leaders. [7:55] The intent– [7:56] So, you’re making the best [7:57] the best they can be? [7:59] This is not necessarily trying to lift all boats, [8:03] if you will, [8:03] but you are really focused on those with that high talent? [8:06] Right. [8:07] And the idea being, [8:08] is that these K12 student leaders, [8:10] right now they’re making a difference, [8:11] but perhaps they’re doing it haphazardly. [8:13] And the idea behind this mentoring relationship [8:16] is to help them recognize their talents as a leader, [8:19] and deliberately use those talents every day. [8:21] So, the college student’s job in this relationship, [8:24] is to build what we call an investment relationship. [8:26] Our college students are selected as 2nd semester freshmen, [8:29] and then they’ll work with the same K12 student [8:31] for three years. [8:32] And this college student is there to build [8:35] an investment relationship. [8:36] And Dr. Hall and Dr. Clifton were very deliberate [8:39] about calling these relationships [8:40] “Investment relationships.” [8:42] My favorite quote from Dr. Hall, [8:44] he said, “Concern for others no matter how sincere, [8:46] “does not by itself guarantee favorable development.” [8:49] So, what he was saying, [8:50] was caring about other people, [8:51] that’s cool, but it’s not enough. [8:53] If you really want to make a difference [8:54] in the life of someone else, [8:55] it needs to reflect an investment.

[8:57] So, our college students are there [8:58] to build an investment relationship [9:00] with this K12 student, [9:01] and they have two jobs. [9:02] The first part of their jobs is to take inventory [9:05] of their mentees’ talent as a leader, [9:07] to try to understand, [9:08] “What is it about them that makes them a leader? [9:11] “What is their unique brand of influence?” [9:13] And there’s good research to say, [9:15] “Here are those talents, [9:17] “and here’s how we identify them.” [9:20] This isn’t guesswork [9:21] and sort of free-forming, [9:23] there’s research behind it. [9:24] Absolutely. [9:25] It really draws from Hall and Clifton’s early research [9:27] in positive psychology. [9:29] They studied students who had high talent [9:31] for positive influence, [9:32] and they identified several themes and talents [9:34] related to what we call human relations capital, [9:37] the ability to positively influence the thoughts, [9:39] feelings, and behaviors of others. [9:41] So, the first part of the college student’s job [9:43] is to inventory their mentees’ talents as a leader. [9:46] Second part of the college student’s job [9:48] is to create what we call stimulus situations, [9:51] or intentional opportunities for their mentee [9:54] to deliberately use their talents to make a difference. [9:56] So, for example, if you and I are working together, [9:58] and I recognize that you have high rapport drive, [10:01] or you relate well to others, [10:02] a stimulus situation might be, [10:04] I might say, “Okay, Chuck. [10:05] “This week in school, I want you to call five people [10:07] “by name in the hallway, [10:09] “and with five others just say hello. [10:10] “And let’s see the difference in response you get [10:12] “when you call someone by name.” [10:14] It’s likely the following week, [10:16] when I ask you about it, [10:17] it’s likely that you’ll tell me, [10:18] “Yeah, it made a difference when I called someone by name.” [10:20] We talked in the hallway. [10:21] Whereas when I just said hello, [10:22] we were like ships passing in the night, right? [10:25] My job as the college student is to connect the dots, [10:27] to say you have high talent as a relater, [10:29] high talent in rapport drive. [10:31] And when you use that talent [10:32] to deliberately call someone by name, [10:34] in that second, you’re saying to that person, [10:36] “I care about you enough to call you by name.” [10:38] and that makes a difference. [10:39] The idea is that by helping you draw that connection [10:41] between your talent and how you can use that talent [10:44] to make a difference, [10:45] the idea is that, [10:46] the hope is that you’ll go down the hallways [10:47] the next week, [10:48] calling people by name, [10:50] not because I’ve challenged you to, [10:51] because you recognize it, [10:52] and you’re going out of your way to use that talent– [10:54] You’re being rewarded. [10:55] Mm-hmm. [10:55] So, the idea is to turn the investee into an investor, [10:58] prepare these K12 student leaders [11:00] to use their talents every day [11:01] to make a positive difference.

[11:04] Fascinating. [11:05] The results over those 70 years [11:08] have really been phenomenal. [11:10] And, so, what I know about your NHRI students, [11:16] is that while they’re not all rural kids, [11:18] you do have a significant number of them [11:20] that come rural communities. [11:22] Talk a little bit about the profile [11:24] and ambitions that you see [11:27] in these young potential rural leaders.

[11:30] What’s great about NHRI, [11:32] is we work with about 180 college student leaders [11:34] and 180 K12 student leaders. [11:36] And our college student leaders represent [11:38] all colleges here at the university. [11:40] So, NHRI provides this wonderful intersection [11:43] between urban student leaders and rural student leaders. [11:48] What’s great is that regardless of background, [11:50] we bring together students who have this passion [11:52] and capacity for positive difference making, [11:54] and they get to spend three years in a laboratory [11:57] for learning how to build investment relationships. [12:00] What I love about rural students in particular [12:02] who are in NHRI, [12:04] is to see their passion and fire [12:06] for using their NHRI lab experience [12:09] to go create those kinds of investment relationships [12:11] in their community, [12:12] and to use that as a vehicle [12:14] by which they’ll make a difference for their community. [12:16] I’ve really enjoyed watching their passion [12:18] evolve and emerge through that idea.

[12:20] So, let’s talk a little bit about community. [12:23] Based on your work, [12:26] as well as your association with Dr. Tom Field [12:28] with the Engler Program, [12:30] who was our guest last week on Catch Up With Chuck, [12:33] your relationship with the Heartland Center [12:35] for Leadership Development, [12:36] where, actually, you did an internship earlier [12:39] in your career, and others, [12:41] you were one of the founders [12:43] of what has now become a very successful [12:45] Rural Futures Institute program, [12:47] our rural serviceship program. [12:49] So, I’d like for you to talk a little bit [12:52] about what you hope to accomplish [12:55] when the serviceship program was just a big idea, [12:58] and then what you’ve seen evolve [13:00] over the last five years, [13:01] as we’ve now been in 19 communities [13:04] with 38 of our students. [13:06] The whole intent and purpose behind serviceship [13:08] was to give students an opportunity [13:10] to be an intern for a community rather than a company, [13:13] and to give students a real life opportunity [13:17] to work alongside community leaders [13:19] to author real change in a rural community.

[13:22] So, for me, what’s been so fun over five years, [13:26] is to watch students recognize [13:27] that no matter what they do, [13:29] whether they become a doctor, a lawyer, a CEO, [13:31] no matter what they do professionally, [13:33] their job is to build communities. [13:35] So, to me, this has been a real life opportunity [13:37] for them to understand their role in building community. [13:40] And by the way, they can do that in Chicago, [13:43] as well as in Cozad. [13:45] And it’s been really fun to see those students [13:49] come through that experience, [13:51] and, really, come out with a life-changing notion [13:54] of their responsibility in community.

[13:57] Well, listen, Lindsay, [13:58] you’re a great example of the distinguished scholars [14:02] at the University of Nebraska [14:03] who are committed to using their sophisticated research [14:08] and teaching endeavors, [14:10] to have a real world impact on the ground, [14:12] with people and communities in rural Nebraska, [14:16] and other places around the world. [14:19] We at the Rural Futures Institute [14:21] are just proud to be associated with you in your work, [14:25] and perhaps helping to make that connection [14:27] from the academy to community for you work [14:31] to be most effective. [14:33] Anything you’d like to add?

[14:34] Well, the pride goes both ways. [14:38] Chuck is also my dad. [14:40] And, dad, what’s been most fun growing up with you, [14:43] is that you always encouraged me to ask questions, [14:46] and you always found value in every question I asked. [14:50] Additionally, you always said my dinner table [14:52] should be a place where politics and religion [14:54] are discussed openly. [14:55] And what I took from that, [14:56] is that any topic should be able to be discussed [14:59] at our dinner table, [15:00] engagingly, as well as with civility. [15:02] And I see that same spirit here [15:04] at the Rural Futures Institute. [15:06] I see the Rural Futures Institute as one big dinner table [15:09] that brings together scholars, [15:11] community development practitioners, [15:13] and community leaders, [15:14] to ask both questions, [15:16] and to come together to have a lively, [15:19] engaging conversation, [15:21] as well as to apply scientific inquiry [15:23] to find answers to those questions. [15:26] So, thanks to you and your leadership, [15:27] as well as the RFI staff for creating [15:29] one great dinner table for us to ask both questions [15:31] about rural community thriving.

[15:33] Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of your work, [15:36] ’cause it is making a difference. [15:38] Well, listen, [15:39] I want you to stay in touch with the Rural Futures Institute [15:41] through Facebook and Twitter, [15:43] as well as our revamped website [15:46] that is attracting a lot of attention. [15:49] We’re gonna be back soon with another addition [15:51] of Catch Up With Chuck, [15:52] where we’re gonna be looking at rural people, [15:54] rural places, [15:55] success stories, [15:57] innovators, entrepreneurs, [15:59] all kinds of folks who are helping [16:00] to make rural communities a legitimate best choice [16:04] for worthwhile living. [16:06] Thanks for being with us. Thanks.


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