Season Three Premiere with Leadership Expert Tim Elmore

Season Three Premiere with Leadership Expert Tim Elmore

by Chris Tompkins | January 31, 2023

Tim Elmore’s invaluable insight into youth leadership is the perfect way to kick off the third season of Shaping Our World. For his encore interview (he was the second guest ever on the podcast), Tim brings with him the observations he made while researching his latest book, A New Kind of Diversity, where he writes about leveraging a multi-generational team for competitive advantage in the workplace.

Tim is CEO of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization based in Atlanta. He has written over 35 books and has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and on CNN, among other major media outlets.

The paradox of the can-do generation

Tim cites the smartphone as the greatest paradox. On one hand, Gen Z’s immersion in social media — and the acute awareness of world issues that comes along with smartphone use — has negatively impacted their mental health in the form of anxiety. On the other hand, the awareness that comes along with smartphones has empowered them. Tim credits the can-do attitude of Gen Z as a reason he feels excited and optimistic about the future, saying that, generationally-speaking, they have a strong sense of agency and the audacity that it takes to step-up as leaders. In fact, a survey suggests that Gen Z has a keener interest in leadership at a younger age than previous generations.

Be a river, not a flood

Expanding on the anxiety affecting young people today, Tim says that beyond the smartphone, kids have a disproportionate fear of messing up, which he terms ‘FOMU.’ He says that parents are partly to blame, even though they mean well, and cautions that it’s important to remember that our kids learn by failing. “We risk too little as we want them safe,” Tim says. “We rescue too quickly because … we want their status to stay high, and then we rave too easily.” He encourages parents to let their kids know that they’re unique but so is everyone else, so finding their niche and staying on their river is key. Tim explains that teaching your kids to “be a river and not a flood,” is good leadership.

Creating a generational bridge

In A New Kind of Diversity, Tim talks about how there can be as many as five different generations in the workplace at once, every one of which has a different frame of reference. This same dynamic is obviously true at home, too. And when it comes to a generational divide, many people put up a wall because it takes work to connect with the person on the other side.

Tim says that it’s our responsibility as both leaders in the workplace and as parents at home to build a bridge instead. To help with this in his own home, Tim practices the LEG method. His “only leg to stand on” consists of first listening to his children and letting them know that they are heard. Then he empathizes with them so they feel understood, and then he can guide them because he has earned it by first listening to them and practicing empathy.

For parents and leaders alike who might want to learn how to build a bridge across a generational gap, Tim recommends taking a generational fluency assessment or “GQ.” The free tool will tell you with which generation(s) you have more fluency and where you are lacking and give you suggestions to support your leadership across those age groups.

For more on Tim Elmore’s valuable insights on leadership both in the workplace and at home, listen to the episode at the top of this post.

Visit our website to discover a variety of other guests that we’ve had on the show. Shaping Our World episodes are also available wherever you get podcasts.


[00:00:12.170] – Speaker 1
Welcome to season three of the Shaping Our World podcast. It’s great to be back with you and we have an incredible season in store. I can’t believe that a number of years ago we set off with this in hope of inspiring adults that care for kids, whether it’s parents or youth workers, other leaders, teachers, educators, with just getting them more information about the world that kids are growing up in today and young people and giving some practical tools and tips. And when we think back on the first two seasons, we’re just amazed at some of the guests we’ve had and the things we’ve learned along the way. And so we’re excited to jump back into season three. We’re starting off this season going back to one of our earliest guests. In fact, he was the second guest we ever had on the Shaping Our World podcast. His name’s Tim Elmore and he’s the founder and CEO of Growing Leaders. And he’s back with us again to unpack some new insights that he’s had. Growing Leaders is an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization created to develop emerging leaders. His work were out of 20 years serving alongside Dr. John C.

[00:01:16.470] – Speaker 1
Maxwell. Some of you may have heard of him. Tim Elmore has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, Psychology Today He’s been featured on CNN’s, Headline News, Fox and Friends to talk about leading multiple generations in the marketplace. He’s written over 35 books, and his newest one is called A New Kind of Diversity, making the different generations on your team a competitive advantage. And he’s done a lot of research and work on the multiple generations and the differences and the similarities and how to work across the divide, particularly in the work context. And we’re going to ask him a few questions, and it’s a really great conversation of how to take some of the things that he’s learned about generational differences and even apply them to parenting or working with kids. And I’m really excited for this conversation, and so let’s kick it off.

[00:02:12.490] – Speaker 2
It’s great to have you with us, Tim.

[00:02:14.520] – Speaker 3
Thanks, Chris. It’s always good to be with you.

[00:02:16.670] – Speaker 2
Podcast is called Shaping Our World, and that’s we want to think about how, as we shape young people, how that impacts our world. And so under that theme, what shaped your world when you were young? Mike? What are some of the bigger influences in your life?

[00:02:31.200] – Speaker 3
Wells there were several. Mom and dad certainly topped the list. I came from a very good home. I always tell people if I don’t do a good job in my career, it’s my own fault, because mom and dad were great. But early on, Chris, I had a mentor that I may have mentioned to you in one of our conversations in the past. His name is Sean. I was 17 years old, and Joseph Michelli was starting an outreach in San Diego to at risk kids. And he asked me to help him. I said, Absolutely, I’ll help you. So every Friday night. We called it Friday faith and Film. Every Friday night, we’d gather in a big auditorium, and I’d set up the chairs, and I’d hold Sean’s coat, and I’d get in some water. But we would show a really great movie, a film that had a great life principle in it. And then once the movie was over, sean would hop up. He’s a dynamic communicator, and he’d kind of do the takeaways, kind of in a great he just was a great speaker. Well, this went on for several weeks, but about, I don’t know, seven or eight weeks in, sean met me backstage and he said in just above a whisper, tim, I don’t think I’m going to be able to speak tonight.

[00:03:43.650] – Speaker 3
Listen to me. I said, Sean, you’re the speaker. You got to speak. He said, listen to me. And sure enough, he had laryngitis. So I was a bit panicked, but he said, Tim, I think you need to go on. I said, I hold your coat. That’s what I do. But after a debate, I realized there was no other alternative. So for the first time at 17 years old, I grabbed his notes. Chris looked them over for about 45 minutes, and I went on that night, knees knocking, trembling, but I survived. After it was over, he hopped up, gave me a big hug, and said, Tim, that was fantastic. From now on, we’re going to rotate.

[00:04:24.840] – Speaker 2
Oh, wow.

[00:04:25.440] – Speaker 3
I’ll be on one week, you’ll be on the other. And thanks to Sean, I’ve been communicating on a regular basis ever since I was 17 years old. Now, that in itself, to me, is a lifespaper. Sean was a life shaper, even in just that entryway. But a few years ago, he and I got together for a dinner, just to reminisce about old times. He still remains a good friend. And I brought up that first time I got up and just started chuckling about how I was scared, and Sean could not give me any eye contact. I was just noticing he was looking at the floor, and I said, Sean, what’s wrong? He looked up at me, Chris, and he said, tim, I got a confession to make. I didn’t have laryngitis that night. I said, what are you talking about? He said, It was the only way I knew I could get you to up if you didn’t think anybody else could do it. So I had to think, oh, my goodness. Well, of course I wanted to slap him there. But now I look back and I say, thank God that Sean’s goal that night was not to get the best speaker in the room up on the stage.

[00:05:28.030] – Speaker 3
If that was his goal, he would have got on the stage. His goal was to take a young leader that he saw a little bit of potential as a communicator, and he put me up there. So anyway, that would be you can imagine, sean just was such a shape. I still thank him to this day. Gosh, 40 years later. It’s crazy.

[00:05:46.830] – Speaker 2
We could probably go on an entire podcast about just talking about that idea. I love that I’ve had similar moments. And I think, just as a note for parents and youth leaders and this is something that’s big in our world, is giving young people the responsibility.

[00:06:05.570] – Speaker 3

[00:06:06.040] – Speaker 2
We could do it better ourselves. Maybe Sean could have spoken better that night, but that wasn’t what it was about. It was about him setting up you and the next generation and taking the chance on maybe it not being what it could have been, but giving you a chance to really flourish. And, man, imagine how we do that in so many areas of parenting or youth work.

[00:06:28.010] – Speaker 3
It’s so true. You know what you reminded me of, Chris? It’s one of the leadership paradoxes that I spotted in a book I wrote a few years ago. I think great leaders balance visibility and invisibility. There’s a time we need to be visible to model the way. But then there’s a moment like Sean showed me. I need to be invisible. It’s time for him to get up. It’s time for Joshua to step forward. Moses, you need to step aside. We know that. But it’s so hard for us, at least my generation, because we have good control of this thing, and it’s messy when we turn it over, but we got to do it well.

[00:07:04.570] – Speaker 2
I can tell you that’s the only way I got to be where I was today was having older leaders. I had a similar experience. Our president and CEO of Muskoka Woods when I was 20, put me on stage to speak in front of all of our teens that he used to always do. And I’ll tell you, one of the most excited, the most excited I’ve seen him was after that, just celebrating and cheering. Not his own accomplishments, but some young kid who he saw some potential in and gave him the opportunity. So what’s shaping our world today? Tell us, Mike, some personal quick hits. What’s interesting? What do you do in your free time?

[00:07:41.410] – Speaker 3
Sarah Wells I love my family. Most people listening probably are lovers of their family and so love spending time with them, but from a professional standpoint, chris, I don’t know if you and I’ve talked about this, but this next year, we are actually merging with Maxwell leadership.

[00:07:59.930] – Speaker 2
Oh, wow.

[00:08:00.840] – Speaker 3
I’m I’m I’m very excited. Of course. I spent 20 years of my career right out of college under John Maxwell. He’s another shaper of my early life. But I started growing leaders and kind of went my own way. Not in rebellion, just I wanted to start this organization that would pour into the emerging generation, and that was not John. But John approached me last year and said, what do you think about merging, we’re locking arms again and we’ll be the next gen people in that ecosystem, the Maxwell leadership world. So I’m pretty excited about that. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to influence even more people.

[00:08:39.830] – Speaker 2
That’s amazing. And I’ll save you from having to tell us more about Growing Leaders and your own work by maybe me telling people, our listeners a little bit about it. I’ve known Tim for a long time, got familiar with him through the habitats curriculum, which was one of the really seminal things that you did right with growing leaders and the social emotional learning and leadership and character curriculum, which has just gone everywhere with young people and young adults. And even you can use it in business world, too. It was phenomenal and we became familiar with each other through that and through my work at Muskoka Woods. And then, Tim, I think I’ve told you this, but my dad would just keep forwarding the emails and they were like, your blogs and the things that you were writing. And my dad’s, now 70 in the he was so intrigued by what you were doing that all of a sudden I was like, okay, tim’s not just reaching young people. He’s reaching a whole different group of people that are inspired by the work that he’s doing. So you’ve been profiled everywhere. Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Psychology Today.

[00:09:58.580] – Speaker 2
Like, your stuff is everywhere. Ted Talks you’ve written so many books on young people, generations, leadership and so for anybody who wants to know a little bit more about what Tim does and we’re going to talk about his newest book through the interview today called A New Kind of Diversity. But you can go to Growing or just Google Tim Elmore and there’s so much on there. So needless to say, you are one of the leading experts on leadership and young people out there. So I’m really excited we’re kicking off this season talking to you about it. So if that is a bit of an intro and I know this is really hard, but kind of zoom out a bit, you know this generation well and we’re talking to parents, so gen Z is kind of often the kind of demographic we’re thinking about. Give us the two sides of the coin. What are you really hopeful about that you see in this generation? And maybe what are some of the emerging issues that, you know, as parents and as people who care about young people we should start paying attention to?

[00:10:59.730] – Speaker 3
Yeah, great question. In fact, a loaded question. Obviously it deserves way more time than I’ll be able to have here, but a couple of thoughts come about. I am very optimistic and very excited about the future of Generation Z. Unlike some naysayers, I really believe they’re going to step up. They feel a lot of agency because they’ve grown up with a smartphone, not just with a cell phone. And so it’s given them a sense of, I can do this, I don’t even need an adult to help me, that sort of thing. You probably know this, Chris, but a universal survey, that was a global survey of gen. Z Wells, US they have a keener interest in leadership than the previous three generations at their age.

[00:11:41.150] – Speaker 2

[00:11:41.730] – Speaker 3
So I think it’s because their awareness comes quicker in their life of the problems that need to be solved. And I think they’re going, I can do that, you know, even if it’s not the most strategic solution in the world, they’re stepping up. So I’m very, very excited about the fact that we may see 18, 1923 24 year old leaders stepping up and kind of surprising us with their audacity because they feel like, I can’t wait. It’s a good form of I can’t wait in this emerging generation. So that’s my positive. I think my caution would be, not only do they have a high sense of agency, they’ve got a high sense of anxiety. You know very well, Chris, that the mental health issues that exist in young adults today, teens especially, are just we’ve never seen them before in my lifetime. So I don’t want to speak in hyperbole, but I don’t think I am. I just think that anxiety has been normalized. Used to be maybe one out of 30 maybe had a little anxiety, and now it’s just such a high percentage of kids in good homes. I mean, two parents, they got food on the table they’re loved, and yet somehow the overwhelming world of a smartphone has created anxiety.

[00:13:02.640] – Speaker 3
Not alone, but that’s been one of the characters. So here’s the paradox or the oxymoron of what I’m sharing. The high agency and the high anxiety are probably both fostered by the smartphone. It’s our greatest friend and our worst enemy in the same device.

[00:13:19.640] – Speaker 2
Yeah. It’s the virtue and the vulnerability at the same time. And, yeah, the interplay on that is really interesting. Maybe take a couple of seconds just on the anxiety piece. Beyond the smartphone, what do you think are some of the factors that are creating a bit more of that high anxiety beyond just the smartphone and Sarah?

[00:13:42.390] – Speaker 3
Wells I think part of it is at a very young age, really, before they’re ready, they’re exposed to information that you and I would say that’s adult level information. I mean, I just read an article that shared data on how teenagers are experiencing high anxiety over climate change or mass shootings or terrorism, and I’m thinking, I think my biggest concern in middle school was, where’s my baseball mitt and how do I find a girlfriend? That was as bad as it got. And today they’re they’re just anxious about climate change. Wells I I’m glad, in a sense, that they are caring about the future, but I’m thinking, oh, my, that should be not really on your mind at 13 or 14 or whatever. You know what I’m saying? So I think one of the factors is they’re just overexposed to information so rapidly. And if you don’t mind me adding something, Chris, I think you and I years ago talked about a book I did called Artificial Maturity. It’s not a snub to kids, but I think the dilemma of our culture today is that kids are overexposed to information earlier than they’re ready, but under exposed to first hand experiences later than they’re ready.

[00:14:59.730] – Speaker 2

[00:15:00.290] – Speaker 3
If you think about 100 years ago, man, four year olds were doing age appropriate chores around the farm, right? Eight year olds were working that farm. 14 year olds were driving cars. I mean, it was just crazy, but that was just very appropriate. And so they assumed responsibility for these very adult like experiences. Well, today we get information. We get video on that. And so I look mature because I know so much. But on the other hand, I may not have done it. And I’m not saying always. I’m saying sometimes.

[00:15:32.160] – Speaker 2

[00:15:32.680] – Speaker 3
That’s where adults, parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers can say, let me give them, along with all this information, some great experiences that really drive home the wisdom that needs to be collected, not just the information.

[00:15:47.150] – Speaker 2
I love that tension there. My wife and I were just going for a walk the other day, and we saw our neighbor, who’s probably in grade four, walking home from the bus, and I just kind of looked I’m like, Where’s her parents? And then I thought, oh, my goodness, that would have been totally normal. I walked a long way home from school, even that, right? Like navigating life without a bit of a bubble or protection. And like you said, the information they’re getting is well beyond. But what about the experience? I think that’s really interesting. I want to ask you something that I wasn’t planning on asking. Okay. I think it kind of navigates in here. One of the observations I’ve had is and you can confirm this or not, but part of the growing anxiety is this overwhelming pressure for young people to succeed early in life, right? Like, to get into university or college, you have to have all these things. This is where I see it. I think that that’s always been there. But for some reason, it’s like your resume has to be way bigger now than ever. It does. But at the same time, we’re noticing this incredible opportunity for young people to step into opportunities and have leadership.

[00:17:00.110] – Speaker 2
And, like, even your example of speaking early, how do we navigate that tension of giving young people the opportunity and for lack of a better word, pushing them to excel without adding and heaping on this burden? My question makes sense to you.

[00:17:18.120] – Speaker 3
It really does. Yeah. And once again, it’s such a great question, Chris. It deserves an incredible answer that I may or may not have. I think you’re absolutely right. The data we see shows us that kids not only suffer from FOMO today fear of missing out, but they experience FOMO. Fomu fear of messing up. So there’s this inordinate amount of pressure to make the cut, make the grade, make the team, make you know, it’s really a comparison trap and a competition trap that they feel because of social media, or at least it’s exacerbated by social media. And I think it’s too much too soon. I really do. I love what Tony Compolo said. Remember Anthony Campolo, the sociologist, professor at Eastern College? He said this years ago. I don’t think we have a generation of bad kids. I think we have a generation of kids who know too much too soon. So this does create this comparison competition thing for sure. And I just feel like failure is one of my best teachers when I’m at any time, but especially when I’m a young adult, in fact, fail quickly and early because the stakes are lower now than when you’re 35 and there’s a paycheck on the line.

[00:18:32.440] – Speaker 3
So we parents and leaders need to be saying, oh, don’t fear failure. In fact, you’re going to be loved and forgiven, and we’re going to help you through it. But this is a disproportionate fear of making mistakes. But you know what, Chris? When I think about it, I think what makes sense when I compare my life as a teenager. If I was at lunchtime at school and I had my tray of food in my hand, and I dropped my tray, and the food spilled on the floor, the two tables closest to me would clap, making fun of me, and then we would go on. Today, I drop the tray, somebody captures it on their iPhone, posted on YouTube, and I’m an idiot now for the next many years, if not forever.

[00:19:16.170] – Speaker 2
Yeah, 100,000 views on TikTok.

[00:19:19.110] – Speaker 3
Yeah, exactly. That’s right. So I don’t blame them at all for feeling like I dare not even try that. And I think we need to help them try. I think we risk too little, we rescue too quickly, and we rave too easily as parents, and we were all well in tension in those, but it’s created, perhaps, an unready young adult when it’s ready to hit the career, and they can do some very much good in their career.

[00:19:47.620] – Speaker 2
Yeah. Can you say those three again?

[00:19:49.870] – Speaker 3
Yeah. We risk too little as we want them safe. We rescue too quickly because, you know, we want their status to stay high, and then we rave too easy. We want their self esteem high. So risk too little is safety. Rescue too quickly is status. We want them to have a good status when they graduate, and then we rave too easily. We just want them to have a really good self esteem. But I think, Chris, I think that we need to tell our kids, you’re unique, but telling them they’re special may have a downside because they go through oh, special, I’m awesome. Well, so is everybody else. And I go off to some incredible school like MIT or Georgia Tech or whatever. Well, there’s a whole bunch of other smarty pants out there.

[00:20:39.020] – Speaker 2
That’s right.

[00:20:39.600] – Speaker 3
So I need to say to my son and daughter who are now adults, you’re very unique, but everybody else is too. So find your niche, find your gift, stay on your river. Be a river, not a flood. And that’s, I think, good leadership and that’s what I think they desperately need from us.

[00:20:56.400] – Speaker 2
Yeah, I think what you’re also leaning in on and speaking to which again, we don’t have time to digress in. This is just the importance of knowing your kids in relationship to be able to discern some of that. I’m even thinking of like you’re rescuing too early and things like that, where that bleeds into anxiety. You have to know your kids right to where when doing the things you mentioned then becomes problematic for their own health. And like you said, unique but not special. But that comes from knowing your kids and being able to speak into some of the things and affirm the strengths that you see in them and encourage them to step out. But then know when my daughter was a competitive dancer for years and we knew when she said she was done and told us why that was the right decision. We didn’t have to fix or rescue or push her harder to say because we knew her right. We journeyed with her, and we let her be the one to kind of take the step and walk through the pros and cons of that, helping her make the decision for herself and not us.

[00:22:13.280] – Speaker 2
Either swooping in to tell her she needs to do it or rescuing her too early and pulling her out when you have a bad day. But back to being in relationship, being attuned to what’s going on in your kids lives so that you can help do everything that you just mentioned I think is huge. So I want to pivot a bit. Your newest work is focused a bit more on the work environment. But I’d love to dive into it because you do a lot on generations and the generation gaps. Like, I think, what, five generations in the workplace now, tim.

[00:22:53.910] – Speaker 3
I want to.

[00:22:54.490] – Speaker 2
Hear about that for our listeners, because many of them are in the business world and other places where this will be important. But then I think there’s an interesting connection to journey with young people in all this. So why don’t we start in your book New Kind of Varsity, you talk about the challenges that come up when generation gaps are in the workplace, but you also talk about leveraging the skills unique to that generation to create a healthier, more successful work environment. Again, virtue and vulnerability. In some of this, you talk a little bit about again, I know we could have a whole podcast on it, but how did these age gaps show up and differences and maybe as we’re thinking about a team environment, help us kind of unpack what you’re hearing and talking about in this new kind of diversity.

[00:23:43.630] – Speaker 3
Sure. Well, I call it a new kind of diversity because we’ve been talking for years about ethnic diversity and gender diversity and income diversity, and we need to continue those conversations. They’re very important. But I think there’s an elephant in the room that we got it. We all know it’s there, but we don’t know how to talk about it. And it’s generational diversity. So there are five generations, as many as five working together, by the way, at holiday time, which we’ve all enjoyed recently, there may be seven generations because people are living longer and mamas are still having babies. The alpha generation would be the youngest children that we’re beginning to measure. And then gen Z. Millennials. Gen X. Boomers. Builders. Seniors. It’s crazy. And because we all grew up in a different time or season and our neural pathways were shaped in those 1st 20 years or so, we have a different frame of mind. I mean, I don’t need to convince a listener right now that that 62 year old in the office and that 22 year old in the office probably have a different frame of reference. But you know what? I think we’ve done, Chris?

[00:24:52.200] – Speaker 3
I think we felt the goal is just to tolerate each other, just tolerate those young whipper snappers and boy, that’s missing it. I think I need to say, all right, I’ve got something to add as a modern elder, but they have something to add as a young genius. They probably know how to monetize TikTok better than I do for our company. So in this book, I really try to create an encyclopedia. It’s a reference guide where you could look up chapter seven or chapter nine maybe, and say, I think I know better now how to connect with that youngest generation, perhaps, and leverage what they bring to the table rather than just put up with them.

[00:25:31.480] – Speaker 2
Yeah, that’s great, because part of the reason why we started I started this podcast was similar to this is here I am, I’m a Gen Xer. I’m looking at my daughter, who’s Gen Z, and I’m going, I don’t really even understand the world that she lives in, yet I’m supposed to help shape and lead and cultivate her life as a parent. And there’s a gap. I love what you’re saying there. So take that from the kind of workplace with five generations into a home give us. Mike, how would I practically bridge that gap with her? What does that tangibly look like for me as a Gen X or vice versa? What does bringing her unique experiences and perspective to the table and mine? And how does that interplay?

[00:26:22.370] – Speaker 3
Yeah, great question. So one of our habitude images is very simple, but it’s very profound. It’s called a bridge, not a wall. When we encounter someone from a different generation, even if it’s our own children and we love them, we tend to put up a wall emotionally. In other words, I know it’s going to take a lot of work to connect with this teenager right now. And I’m a little bit weary. I’m already exhausted from my day. We tend to put up a wall. It’s an invisible wall. But instead of building a bridge to say, I want to connect and I’m willing to put in the work to have this, I don’t know, this connection, what feels like a cross cultural relationship right now? So I find myself today, chris practicing leg. Okay, this is the leg we got to stand on. I first want to lead with listening. Not talking, not telling, not preaching. I want to listen. When I listen to my adult children now, they feel heard. Here’s my dad, who’s the bestselling author, and he’s listening to me. I just win them at the heart level. So I try to tell even though I want to say something, because you can tell, Chris.

[00:27:36.140] – Speaker 3
I like to talk.

[00:27:37.810] – Speaker 2
Me too.

[00:27:38.630] – Speaker 3
I want them to feel heard. The e is empathizing. I know we all know this. But when I empathize, they not only feel heard, they feel understood. So listen empathize. And then g is guide. But I’ve earned my right to guide them because I first let them take the first step. It’s almost like they’re leading the dance. With this dance we’re doing, they took the first step and I’m following. But I know I’m going to guide that dance into a place that’s going to make them better and healthier, and they’re going to thank me later. Probably not now. But as simple as that little acronym is, I know that’s the leg I got to stand on because they’re not listening. They’re not looking for a lecture.

[00:28:23.330] – Speaker 2
I love that. And that’s so practical for us to think about, really, anybody that feels different from us as a whole, but particularly for our kids. And let me add, without disclosing too much, I’ve always struggled with the empathy part of that. I can probably be good at listening and then I’ll just move quickly to guidance. And I think even as you were talking, I was thinking. And what’s been clear to me lately, Tim, is just how tough it is.

[00:28:52.490] – Speaker 3
To be kids today.

[00:28:54.410] – Speaker 2
You highlighted some of that. So your example of the TikTok or video of someone dropping their lunch all over the cafeteria, it’s one thing for me to say, Mike, I can’t believe it’s like that. In our day, we never had to worry about that. We should just stop recording things and putting them on TikTok. But to actually enter in, to go imagine what that would be like at any moment, to feel like. You could be exposed. We already know that. Tumultuous teen years with hormones and puberty and biological changes and what that’s like, if you read anything on that, you’re like, I can’t believe I survived that, particularly females. This stuff is just so tumultuous. And then you add in this new dynamic, and I feel like I’m learning to have a much more empathy. I think that’s been my growth as a dad. I love it that I’m hoping is applying to my own leadership as well, to really put myself in someone else’s shoes to try to experience what it feels like to navigate whatever it is you’re thinking or talking about.

[00:30:05.890] – Speaker 3
Absolutely. David Augsburger, an author, said, this being heard is so close to feeling loved that for the average person, it’s almost indistinguishable. I think our kids feel loved when they’re heard, and I’m even getting choked up right now, but I’m thinking that’s what I want my kids to have for me. I think I got a bit of wisdom, but I got to earn my rights to share it with them because they’re inundated with information. I’m in a crowded room in terms of information and content, so that’s our job, I think. Yeah.

[00:30:42.740] – Speaker 2
And I think at the end of the day, Tim, one of the things that’s been a marker for me is, in 1015 years, where is my relationship going to be at with my daughter? Not how have I helped shape her decisions and protected her? That’s all good, but at the end of the day, in her celebration and her utter despair, if she can turn to me and say, dad, can I talk? That’s how you win at the end of the day. And your point is? We don’t get there with the guidance. We get there through the listening and the empathy and man, how applicable is that to, like I said earlier, anybody that’s different from us, our neighbors, and cultural diversity and generational diversity and work. I love that you’ve discovered that. You talk a little bit about being flexible without giving in. What does that look like for leaders to develop immaturity? Because that’s where you do a lot of that. So start there and then maybe make a transition to how that relates to relationships outside of work as well. Like in parenting.

[00:31:45.800] – Speaker 3
Sure. Well, yeah. That chapter was the most fascinating one to write in this book. I think people come to us either on a team or a group or a club or whatever, and they’ve not always distinguished between preferences, expectations and demands. So everybody comes with preferences mostly. I prefer it this way. It’s a wish, but it doesn’t have to happen.

[00:32:11.920] – Speaker 2

[00:32:12.510] – Speaker 3
Expectations are, I anticipate this happening. Please let me know if it won’t. And then demands are, man, I’m dying on this hill. If this is not going to be true on this team, I quit or don’t hire me or whatever. And I think employers and hiring managers need to say, I need to find those out right away. So I think those kinds of conversations should happen earlier rather than later, maybe even in the hiring process, or at least the onboarding process. So one of the last people I interviewed for a hire, I had this conversation and it was so good to give them clarification just by the questions. Now, would that be a preference or would that be a demand? Oh, I guess it’s just a preference. Okay, good. We can live with that. But, boy, think about Chris. If they’re going to demand something and I just know that’s not one of our core values, we will not do that here. I do them a disservice if I go, well, we’ll fudge a little bit, I need to tell them right now, I don’t think we’re the right place for you. And that’s courage, that’s good leadership.

[00:33:19.770] – Speaker 3
So that’s my principle of that particular chapter.

[00:33:23.250] – Speaker 2
Well, I was just going to say, I think that’s a really good filter to put a lot of that stuff through.

[00:33:30.080] – Speaker 3
Yeah, it really is.

[00:33:31.220] – Speaker 2
And even if I can add from leadership, Mike, one of the things that’s been a challenge now is as you journey with employees, we’ve got this remote and in person and hybrid type work environment, and I’m even thinking through that as a leader to go, where is that in your categories, right? Preference and expectation or requirement or I can’t remember the last one you said.

[00:33:55.930] – Speaker 3
Yeah, demand.

[00:33:56.900] – Speaker 2
Demand. Yeah. Mike, where does that fit? And then as a leader, where would I fit that into that category? We always talk to Tim about how you always kind of have this tension between giving people what they want and what we know they need that they actually don’t know they need at the same time as a leader and how you interplay that. But I love that framework of how you would use the preferences and expectations and demands. How does that expand beyond the world of work and leadership? For parents, even, that’s a great tool to even talk about some of the things in a home.

[00:34:37.230] – Speaker 3
I totally agree. I think once your kids become teens, let’s say middle school, high school, college, and certainly young professional, I think those same conversations ought to be had. And by the way, my assumption here is that the person listening that may be a parent have some Corey values, personal family Corey values. If you don’t, it’s okay. It’s not criminal, but you ought to come up with them. I remember early on, Chris, Pam and I, my wife and I came up with our family core values, and they were words that we wanted to live and lead by, so that even if we never said them out loud, our kids would go, I can tell you what they are because mom and dad embody these day in and day out. So once I know those values, I have got this compass in my heart. Now, I can say now what are demands, what are expectations, what are preferences? And there’s a lot I can fudge on with preferences. I may have a well, my daughter is very different from me in a good way. She’s her own unique individual, but she is so different from me that I need to go, okay, that’s a preference.

[00:35:45.320] – Speaker 3
I need to not die on that hill and demand that she not have a piercing or whatever, that sort of thing. And I think we often don’t do very well on this. So Chris, this is not in the book. It’s in a different book I did. But I want to give you a metaphor that might be helpful for parents.

[00:36:03.470] – Speaker 2

[00:36:04.320] – Speaker 3
It’s my belief at this point in my journey that every good parent, as they raise their children, create a fence. This is a metaphor create a fence around their children to protect them, to keep them safe, to guide them, to keep them in a good, healthy place. As that child grows into young adulthood, they must tear down those parent fences and build their own fence. Now, every parent hopes to God that that child’s fence as a young adult is awfully close to their fence.

[00:36:41.210] – Speaker 2
Yeah, right. And they hope it looks almost exactly the same.

[00:36:44.240] – Speaker 3
Exactly. And isn’t that true? We all say, put it in the same place, put that post in the same place. But my two kids, God love them and I love them, they’re in different, slightly different places, and I need to here’s why I think this is true. Nothing more pitiful than a, let’s say a 40 year old son or daughter that’s still looking to mom and dad for help and guidance. They should have their own values. Embrace them, embody them. Now, you’ve created the fence originally, so you’ve given them all model, but they must tear down their fence. Now, let me add one more little nugget to this. If you are a Christ follower, it’s very easy to confuse your fence with God’s fence. There is no Bible verse that says, be in at 10:00. There isn’t. So sorry, mom, but you need to say, this is my fence. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t say God spoke and said, be it at 10:00. And I just feel like that’s important that we keep that in mind because we mean well. We probably have way more wisdom than our teenage kids. But along the way, they need to build their own fence and we need to give them the tools to build that fence.

[00:37:54.070] – Speaker 2
That’s really good. Maybe switching gears a little bit. But similarly, your associate, John Maxwell, you mentioned earlier, has said that managers treat, and I don’t know if I’ll get the quote exactly right, but managers treat everyone the same. Leaders treat everyone differently. Yes, there’s this idea of chess and checkers and leadership and how does that interplay with how we lead others. I know you’re talking maybe as we’re talking specifically with generational differences, but talk a little bit about that idea and then again, extrapolate that back to that because we may have multiple kids and they’re all kind of different. Right. So true. That’s why I think even back I’m not answering your question for you, but the fence idea is like, kids got to build their own.

[00:38:39.480] – Speaker 1

[00:38:39.750] – Speaker 2
We can build one, but one of our children might replicate it the same, and another might build it a little bit differently. Right. And that’s part of the uniqueness of experience and how people are raised. But anyways, I’m answering the question for you. Jump back in checkers and chess. What does that look like in leaders and how we lead people differently? And then maybe back to the parenting conversation.

[00:39:02.130] – Speaker 3
Okay, sure. Well, chess and checkers happens to be one of our habitudes. You mentioned these images before. So chess and checkers is merely an image or a metaphor to consider a principle. The two games, chess and checkers, both are played on the same game board. So we could be tempted to think it must be the same game, but it’s not true. When I played checkers, all my pieces look alike. They all move alike, so I treat them all. Allie when I play the game of chess, I have to know what each piece can do, and that’s how I win the game. I think it’s good with parenting children. If you have more than one child oh, my goodness. Born out of the same womb, eating the same green beans under the same roof, and they can be so different. So it’s only good parenting. It’s good leadership. That means I tap to take the labor to know who’s in front of me. By the way, isn’t it true, Chris, playing chess is a little harder than playing checkers?

[00:39:57.050] – Speaker 2

[00:39:57.710] – Speaker 3
Playing chess takes longer than playing it.

[00:40:00.300] – Speaker 2
Takes a little more time, too.

[00:40:01.660] – Speaker 3
That’s right.

[00:40:02.450] – Speaker 2

[00:40:02.750] – Speaker 3
So the same is true with our leadership. So that’s the leadership principle. I think in the home, I’ve come to believe that there’s really three kinds of kids and then lots of overlap or merging of the two kinds or three kinds. But I think there’s drivers, diplomats, and dreamers. The driver child is is is driven. Okay. They’re very strong willed, maybe even stubborn. They have often got really strong ideas in their own head. I think they need to be led very differently than a diplomat or a dreamer. You’ve got to be very clear and very direct. The diplomat oh, my goodness. If you lead a diplomat the same way you lead a driver, they’ll be in tears in five minutes. The diplomat is a peacemaker. They love harmony. They often acquiesce their own wishes on the playground because whatever my daughter Bethany is whatever. That was her favorite word in middle school.

[00:40:54.310] – Speaker 2

[00:40:54.740] – Speaker 3
So you lead a diplomat by seeking cooperation. They want harmony. So if I told Bethany, you need to clean your room, don’t you want a clean room? She’d go, not really. But if I said, would you help me? What would really help me is a clean room. I’m oversimplifying, but you see, that okay. Her motivation now might kick in. The dreamer is often the most misdiagnosed child of Allie. They’re often very creative, strong imaginations, vision oftentimes of my son Jonathan’s as a dreamer. If I told Jonathan to clean his room and 30 minutes later I walked in on him, not only was the room not cleaned up, but there were four new construction sites going up in the room of Jonathan. What are you doing, dad? I had an idea. So with a dreamer, I think it’s very helpful to provide options because they want to use their creative juices to get the job done. So I might say, okay, there’s four or five options, but you need to have the room clean by noon. You get to the same goal, but you play chess, not checkers with the child. I think that’s what we got to do to lead well.

[00:42:01.260] – Speaker 3
But it’s work.

[00:42:02.060] – Speaker 2
That’s really good. Just briefly, you talked about dreamers and diplomats. Have you written on this? Where can people kind of find more information about that?

[00:42:11.050] – Speaker 3
Yes, I did. So I originally wrote on this in the book. Nurturing the leader within your child. It’s still available as a used book. It’s 20 years old now, but nurturing the leader within Child and I think I even mentioned it in a later book. I think I mentioned it perhaps in generation Z Unfiltered, which is much more recent. I kind of did an updated version.

[00:42:33.650] – Speaker 2
I know some people were probably like, oh, where can I find out more about these types? So that’s great. So nurturing what’s the book called again?

[00:42:42.530] – Speaker 3
Nurturing the leader within your Child. Thomas Nelson publishers.

[00:42:47.210] – Speaker 2

[00:42:47.640] – Speaker 3
And that was way back, gosh, 20 years ago now.

[00:42:50.550] – Speaker 2
Well, let’s keep with that theme as we kind of start to land the plane a little bit. Both you and I know we spend a lot of our time on on leadership development. And, you know, that can begin at a young age as our definition of leadership around our placer. Leaders are people who look at the world and say, it doesn’t have to be this way, and they do something about it. And that’s kind of our bucket of how we look at leadership when we think about our kids and to kind of inspire leadership into them. What are some important attributes and skills? And how can we, as parents or youth workers or teachers or whoever’s listening, how can we start to foster and nurture that in kids?

[00:43:31.590] – Speaker 3
It seems to me and again, everybody knows this is just me. I’m just one guy, but it seems like there’s four fundamentals. If this were a painting I was describing, these would be the primary colors in the painting, the first one. And Chris, I know you believe this is character. I think leadership really begins with self leadership. Help them lead themselves well. Discipline, honesty, ethics. You’ve written some great stuff, Chris, on elastic morality. It’s so brilliant. I’m telling you, we got to show that in so character. Step number one. The second attribute is perspective, I think. Well, when I was getting my doctoral degree, one of my prof said something I’ve never forgotten. He said, the primary difference between a follower and a leader is perspective. The primary difference between a leader and an effective leader is better perspective. I think they do think differently, like you just said. So I want to groom a good perspective, a big picture perspective, a long term perspective, a high road perspective. Item number three is courage. I think lots of people get good ideas, they have good perspective, but they don’t get up off the bottom and do something about them.

[00:44:46.080] – Speaker 3
So the third one, we need to somehow foster the development of courage. I’m going to get up and do something even when there’s no guarantee it will work. And then the last of the four, chris, I don’t know if this is a great word, but it’s the best word that describes what I’m trying to say, favor. This is the people element of leadership, where I learn to be winsome. I learn to attract people to the cause that I’m jumping on board with, and they want to go with me on the journey. I don’t know who first said this, but somebody once said, a leader has a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart. That’s what I want to build in the emerging generation, a compass and a magnet inside of them.

[00:45:29.200] – Speaker 2
That’s really good. So, Tim, there’s been already so many things, leg analogy or Mike metaphor, so many things that have been jumped out, and I was trying to scribble notes on all of them. And I’m sure parents will be or people listening will be rewinding and taking that back. But obviously we’re going to direct people to your There’s tons of resources, probably links and access to your books. Or like I said, they can Google your name and see a list of the books you’ve written. What other resources or things can you kind of suggest to DAREarts who are wanting to learn more about generations or the world around them? Are there specific things you’ve written or done or other things that you’ve been reading lately that would be helpful for parents who are right into this conversation and are like, okay, how do I get more on these topics we talked about?

[00:46:19.690] – Speaker 3
Yeah, sure. Thanks for asking. Yeah. Our team developed a free assessment where you can assess your generational fluency. In fact, we gave it a Corey name. It’s called your GQ. So you’ve heard of IQ? This is your GQ. So if a listener wanted to take this free assessment, you can go to and you’ll immediately see the assessment you can go to it’s 41 questions where you can see, oh, I’m really good with Millennials, but not so much with Gen Z. I’m really good with Boomers, but not with Xers. And then you get a report out on where you were strong and maybe some steps you can take on where you weren’t as strong. And that, of course, would lead you to the book if you want to get it, but that might be a fun free resource over the next few.

[00:47:09.710] – Speaker 2
Days or weeks that I’m curious right now. I might do it as soon as we’re done to see where I’m at.

[00:47:14.750] – Speaker 3
Great. Awesome. So, yeah, thanks so much, Chris. I so respect you and your work at Muskoka Woods. Thanks for letting me talk with you listeners. I hope this has been helpful and relevant and, yeah, let us know how we can be helpful.

[00:47:28.440] – Speaker 2
Well, like I said when we started, a great way to kick off this season talking to you again, I come out of these really inspired and want to write things down and apply them not just to my work, but in my own home. And so, Tim, thank you for continuing to do what you do to kind of hold out the desire to learn more and to research and to do the really hard work of figuring out where people are at and how to lead them today. And so appreciate you and the work you do at group growing leaders and excited to see what this new partnership does as we go move forward. So thank you for your time today and again, all the best as you continue to make a difference and shape the world of young people and those that care about young people all across the world. So. Thanks, Tim.

[00:48:14.720] – Speaker 3
My pleasure. Thanks for having me on, Chris.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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