5 Tips for building youth’s leadership skills – Part 4: Setting goals

Explore some quick suggestions to add goal-setting development opportunities to youth development activities.

Leadership skills are often cited as one of the important impacts of 4-H and other youth development programming. Most programs, however, focus on particular projects or interest areas, such as raising animals or creating art. No matter which project area a volunteer is helping with, leadership skills can add dimension to the experience. This will help youth learn how to take on more responsibility in the future.

Here are a few ways volunteers can add goal-setting skills to the experiences of their participants:

  • Help youth break down larger project goals into smaller pieces. Have them record their goals in a notebook and document their progress. Remind youth that it’s ok to revise goals throughout the year.
  • Help youth be specific as they set goals. They are much more likely to achieve a goal if it is clear, as in, “Raise at least $200 at the club fundraiser,” as opposed to, “Raise some money.”
  • Involve youth in annual planning for the program year. Help them consider group goals as well as individual project goals, and have them brainstorm a list of activities (or type of activity) that would help them achieve those goals.
  • Involve youth in planning community service projects. Let the group vision the overall goal of the project, and then delegate tasks so that everyone is involved. Participants will have more buy-in if they help create the group goals, and then will get more out of the experience than if a leader just gives them a job.
  • Include goal-setting as part of routine group discussions. Help youth to understand that successful adults make, revise and evaluate goals often.

When you need new ideas or want some help adding layers of skill-building to your 4-H participants’ experiences, make sure to visit your local 4-H office or check out the Citizenship, Leadership & Service section of the Michigan 4-H website for lots of information! This is the fourth in a series of how to build leadership skills in youth. Be sure to also read about decision-making skills, responsible leadership, public speaking skills and problem-solving skills.

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