Children as Learners, Entrepreneurs as Leaders

One of the greatest models of anything I’ve seen in my life is that of the International Baccalaureate‘s (IB) “learner profile”.

For those who may not be education geeks, the IB is an organization that helps “develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.” It pursues this mission by partnering with schools around the world which deliver the IB’s challenging educational programs and curricula.

I was tangentially aware of IB for many years but found it especially fascinating a year ago, when our family was evaluating high school options for my daughter. At the time, I was also designing the flagship curriculum for The Junto Institute, during which I began envisioning the ideal archetype of a Junto graduate.

One day, during our family’s discussions of IB programs, I leafed through a folder from one of the schools we visited. In it was a single sheet that described the IB learner profile and its 10 attributes:

  • Balanced: understand the importance of intellectual, physical, and emotional well-being
  • Caring: show empathy, compassion, and respect along with a commitment to service
  • Communicative: express ideas and information confidently and creatively; work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others
  • Inquisitive: take the initiative to develop curiosity and enjoy learning
  • Knowledgeable: explore new concepts, ideas, and issues; develop an understanding across a broad range of disciplines
  • Open-minded: welcome learning of perspectives, values, and traditions of others; seek and evaluate a range of points of view
  • Principled: act with integrity and honesty; take responsibility for actions and outcomes
  • Reflective: initiate thoughtful consideration of their own learning and experience; assess and understand strengths and limitations
  • Risk-taking: approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage; brave and articulate in defending their beliefs
  • Thinking: take the initiative to apply critical and creative thinking

All of a sudden, it hit me that this profile not only included the traits I was striving for in graduates of The Junto Institute, but even more than I could have thought of.

And so what went through my mind at that very moment was how the IB “learner profile” should represent the Junto “leader profile”: the types of entrepreneurial leaders I was hoping we could help develop. The types of leaders I believed would become great entrepreneurs, create great companies, generate great economic value, and make this a greater world.

Yes, the skills that go into starting and running a business are important: technical abilities, sales, finance, etc. But the skills that go into growing an organization and being a leader are much bigger in scope and require the holistic, character-based attributes in the IB learner profile.

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