Society has always seen the youth as leaders of tomorrow rather than today and this is reflected in its lack of faith in young people.
Quite Literally Food for Thought
My friend and I were at a café, sipping our lattes and brainstorming ideas for a new project when she suddenly threw me the question, “Do you think young people can lead?”
Being young, and having founded a fair few projects of my own, I instinctively wanted to say yes. Instead, I stopped myself and said, “What about you, do you think we can?”
She replied by sending me an image of a quote where the last phrase of it read: “…life needs age, stop acting like you know stuff before the time comes.”
I understand her concerns. For ages, we have always associated experience with knowledge. Ten years of experience means you are highly knowledgeable in it, and a year of experience means you know nothing. We need the years to prove our knowledge. This has a demotivating effect on many young people, and as a result, they often struggle to believe in their potential and power.
Belaboured by Labels
It is also all too common to hear people putting labels like ‘immature’ and ‘emotional’ on young people. The youth are always in a rush, people say, and always in a hurry to take control of things before their time.
The same people often underestimate and question the capacity and capabilities of the young. In fact, many of us have witnessed companies demanding years of experience for junior roles, or funding bodies providing lesser opportunities to young entrepreneurs from underprivileged communities to secure grants and funds for their projects simply because they are young and inexperienced.
The dreaded ‘adults are talking’ smile.
Society has always seen youths as leaders of tomorrow rather than the leaders of today and this sentiment is reflected in its lack of faith in young people’s abilities to lead their organisations effectively.
What many fail to see in these circumstances, is that youth have a power of their own. Young people come with a package of passion and vision. Their lack of experience can easily be leveraged to produce fresh and new ideas.
They are able to see things with a new pair of eyes and provide a different perspective that suits the need of the present and the future. Imagine waking up to a world led by a passionate and energetic group of young people who are sensitive enough to care for the welfare of their communities and sensible enough to make sound judgments by utilising their practical wisdom.
What the world really needs today, are youth as leaders with the 2 Ss: young leaders who are equally sensible and sensitive. We are in dire need of youth leadership with a sharp intellect that is paired with strong and stable emotions.
Why Youth As Leaders #1: Sensibility
Being sensible simply means the person is making sense. They can use their logical thinking to make rational and reasonable decisions. Young or old, leaders must have a sharp mind. Leadership is highly related to decision-making and mastering the key concept of the 5Ws and 1 H.
They need to know what to do, why they must do it, where to stand, whom to approach, when to act, and importantly how to organise their inner thoughts and effectively deliver to the people around them to create a sustainable environment for them and others.
John Maxwell captured this point perfectly when he said:
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
It’s all about making good decisions at the right moment. Leader with a sharp intellect and practical wisdom base their judgments on values.
They have learned to prioritise and not be bogged down by unimportant matters. They have the good sense to identify key values and easily grasp the crux of an issue, then effectively communicate these to their people. These leaders work their best to create opportunities and share wisdom with others as they are fully aware of the need of creating the next batch of sensible leaders.
Why Youth As Leaders #2: Sensitivity
The word ‘sensitive’ often has negative associations. When we call someone sensitive, it typically implies they are clingy and emotional or easily get offended. However, leading with sensitivity in this context is defined as understanding the emotion of others and being caring.
Sensitive leaders are the best communicators as they understand the trick to telling the best stories that can easily resonate with many. Their stories are very inspiring and this keeps the engagement between them and their audience very lively.
One of the main communication aspects of leadership is being critical and delivering criticism to others. Often many leaders fail terribly in this aspect as they struggle to balance between being straightforward and not hurting the feelings of others in the process.
Leaders who are sensitive to emotions know how to choose the right words when delivering feedback and criticism so that it is easily understandable and not seen as harsh and hurtful.
Sensitive leaders are observant and creative. They take note of the small details and use that to create a pleasant environment for others. Their sensitivity helps them to not only listen to what is said but also the hidden messages in a conversation. They are good at reading between the lines and thus they respond better to others. They take great care in helping people deal with their emotions and are thus able to build trust easily.
A world with youth as leaders with a sharp intellect and stable emotions can be the difference we need today.
A sensitive leader also makes a great leader because they can self-manage themselves. Since they can manage their own emotions and feelings, they ensure their own happiness so that they can make others happy too. They practice good self-care habits and celebrate their small wins and victories to boost their intrinsic motivation.
The Leaders We Need
If age was the only factor we took into consideration, imagine how many great things the world would have missed out on. From politics to music, the youth have made significant impacts that forever changed the world.
Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih was only 22 when he led his army to conquer the city of Constantinople. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his first symphony when he was only 8 years old. A common factor in all these stories is the passion of these young people along with their sensibility and sensitivity.
Creating a young leader with these two qualities is far from impossible. A combination of the right guidance and willpower can develop great leadership skills in the younger generation. A world with youth as leaders with a sharp intellect and stable emotions can be the difference we need today.
They are the leaders that can be the ladder between us and success.
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