Useful lessons are never taught in class
As a working professional, I am certain of one thing: that the challenges our youth will face in their professional lives will extend far beyond college degrees. Rather, they will be tests of adaptability, resourcefulness, and self-belief, among other things.
I would go so far as to say it will be about leadership competency.
Formal education certainly opened doors to my career – but never defined it. From where I started to where I am now, the nature of my work has changed so completely that very little of what was taught in the classroom remains relevant.
Instead, what continues to serve me are life lessons that shaped my identity, sense of worth, and worldview. New skills could always be learnt when needed, but without my own personal values to guide me, would I have had the strength to try at all?
By equipping a young person with leadership skills that typically only came later in life, that person could start making the right decisions much earlier on – both personal and professional.
Trends in the workplace seem to support this. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Work report, among the skills that employers value most in today’s market are critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, and communication.
Age really is just a number
We are used to associating stages of personal and professional achievement with a certain age range. The truth is that age is simply a medium – the longer you live, the more of life you experience, and the wiser you become.
But we live in a time where it is no longer unusual to hear of successful CEOs in their 20s. A career change used to be a big deal, but today it’s become almost expected – in fact, it’s expected to happen anywhere between five to seven times in one’s lifetime.
By equipping a young person with leadership skills that typically only came later in life, that person could start making the right decisions much earlier on – both personal and professional. It would be a powerful head start to a very long race.
At Leaderonomics, we have a framework called the Science of Building Leaders (SOBL), which outlines the various aspects of development a leader must go through. We studied the areas of the SOBL linked to teenagers, then looked at how we could create a comprehensive syllabus that would help the youth develop themselves.
The result of this research is what we call our Youth 52 competency skills, also known as Y52.
It consists of fifty-two topics over 52 weeks, covered in a specific sequence that starts simple and gradually increases in complexity. Together, they form a holistic learning plan that addresses every aspect of youth leadership.
The journey begins with Forming Yourself, where we cover the development of character, values, and mindsets. Next, youth arrive at Discovering Yourself, where they will learn how to form self-awareness and vision as well as developing a healthy view of role models. The final stage, Applying Yourself, teaches decision-making, how to learn from mistakes, and serves as general preparation for adult life.
The competencies taught through these three stages can be clearly linked back to the WEF report on in-demand employee skills. The combination of a correct mindset, self-awareness and confidence will allow one to thrive in any circumstance.
The actual learning content has also been curated in-line with modern-day learner preferences. We keep it bite-sized, mobile-friendly, and easily accessible. We also serve our content in a variety of mediums ranging from articles to videos and podcasts, catering to different learning styles.
Perhaps most importantly, Youth 52 is powered by Necole, our Learning Experience Platform where users can interact with each other and share content pieces. Being part of a community can be the most motivating aspect of any learning experience, and has been shown to keep learners engaged and accountable.
In short, we believe it works.
On a more personal note
In addition to, and above, being a working professional, I am also a mother. I know I can’t protect my son from making mistakes. That doesn’t matter though, because I’m not here to stop him from making mistakes. I’m here to make sure he learns from them as quickly as possible.
I’d like to provide my son with the knowledge to meet these challenges better prepared than I was, in the hopes that he makes better choices than I did.
When I reflect on my past, the poorly thought-out decisions never stemmed from a lack of hard skills. Neither did they have to do with not having the right degree – within reason, many jobs are truly open to anyone willing to learn. No, the mistakes have always involved a gap in my leadership capability, at least at the time.
Had I known then what I know now, things might have turned out very differently. That’s not to say I’m not grateful for where I am and what I have.
My son, however, still has his whole life ahead of him. I’d like to provide him with the knowledge to meet these challenges better prepared than I was, in the hopes that he makes better choices than I did.
Through Youth 52, that is what we hope to provide to teens everywhere: the power of decision-making with wisdom beyond their years.
For the visually inclined, here is a visual breakdown of the three dimensions of Y52: If you'd like to know more about Y52, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our LinkedIn page.
1. Forming Yourself
2. Discovering Yourself
3. Applying Yourself