Youth Leaders Not Pit Diggers
“We can’t change the past, as much as we want to, all we need to do is remember it, learn from it, and move forward”_ Speaker Unknown.
Ahead of my community youth election, I am wondering if change (Not Political) is coming to our community, eight years outside my community and country, I have returned home to meet the same unchanging society. A community of jobless youths parading the streets, creating violence and making our community unsafe, young teens indulge in cult activities, “Pirated Minds” I call them, forced to carry out illegal doings.
Many for sure have blamed it on the government, but I most often blame it on the leadership of my community. As a youth Activist and a young Journalist, I have seen the success of youths in other communities. Several communities Youth Movements, I have admired all this years, because over there, every youth has a reason to preach peace. The beauty of every community lies in the hands of every successful youth, for this reason I have chosen not to write just a letter, but a piece that would go a long way influencing a few persons in my community and beyond.
Haven questioned the relevance of Youth Movement’s for years; I have grown to realize that a community without a youth movement is like building a house without foundation and pillars. As youths, we are the pillars of our community, the success of this communities lie on our palms and for that singular act, a good youth leader would stop at nothing but inspire his or her followers and the future generations.
As a youth leader, one is expected to live up to the expectations of his followers, not just giving them just hope for a better tomorrow but going the extra mile to make sure the youths are inspired for tomorrow. Like one of my favorite American Rappers, 2pac, he once said; “I am not saying I am going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that would change the world”. These should be the landmark of any true youth leader.
“A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind”._ Nelson Mandela
Every great youth leader was once a follower, he has learnt from the leadership of others, creating a big difference between the past and the future, not taking into consideration the challenges involved in making change a reality. Like a shepherd watches over his flocks, so those every true leader watch over his followers irrespective of their political, religious or social differences.
However, for one to be a successful youth leader, there are certain skills I look out for, and those skills I have listed and explained below.
CONTINUOS LEARNING: Show me a “Know-it-all” and I will show you someone who doesn’t have a clue about being human. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to always do better is the mark of every great leader. They are rarely satisfied with the status quo, and welcome new knowledge and fresh (even if challenging) input. It’s all about investing in you; keep learning from the mistakes of others.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Great leaders understand empathy, and have the ability to read peoples (sometimes unconscious, often unstated) needs and desires. This allows them to speak these needs and, when at all possible, to fulfill them. When people feel they are understood and empathized something, they respond period and a bond is formed.
HONESTY: Not a week goes by that we don’t hear a so-called leader losing credibility because he was dishonest. Often this is because of pressure to try and “measure up” and it’s not coming from a place of being real- often this relates to fear of not being accepted for your true self. We live in age of extraordinary transparency, which is reason enough to always be true to your core- your mission will be revealed, your motivations will show your behaviors. But it goes beyond this. It’s an issue that sets an example and elevates an organization. If you have a reputation for honesty, it will be a lot easier to deliver bad news and face tough challenges.
KINDNESS AND RESPECT: Nice leaders (people) don’t finish last; they finish first again and again. Ignorance and arrogance are leadership killers; they are also a mark of insecurity. Treating everyone with a basic level respect is an absolute must trait of leadership. And kindness is the gift that keeps on giving back. Of course, there will be people who prove they must be dealt with. But the job will be made much easier, and will have far less impact on your organization, if you have a reputation for kindness, honesty and respect.
COLLABORATION: People’s jobs and careers are integral to their lives. The more your organization can make them a partner, the more they will deliver amazing results. This means, to the greatest extent possible, communicating your organizations strategies, goals and challenges. This builds buy-in and again is a mark of respect. People won’t be blindsided (which is a workplace culture killer) by setbacks if they are in the loop.
PARTNERSHIP: As I said above, people’s careers are a big part of their lives. That seems like a no-brainer, but leaders should have it front and center at all times. Find out what your followers career goals are and then do everything you can to help them reach them. Even if it means they will eventually leave your organization. You will gain happy, productive followers who will work with passion and commitment, and tout your umbrella far and wide. This is an opportunity to brand your greatness.
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart” _ Eleanor Roosevelt
Leadership is both and art and a science. These tools are guidelines, not rigid rules. Everyone has to develop his or her own individual leadership style. Taking his or her followers at heart irrespective of the style you choose. As a leader, the interest of your followers must be your major concern. Don’t dig pits, but rather fills the pits.
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