IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE we have leaders – in the workplace, in organizations, in society, on the “block”. These are people holding important positions. Although position might give a leader power to accomplish certain objectives, position does not make a leader, it simply makes a boss.
Too often there is a misconception about leadership position and the power to boss. Leadership is not throwing your power, position or weight around. Even though all forms of leadership must make use of power, the central issue of power in leadership is not “will it be used” but rather “will it be used wisely and well”.
Having good leadership leads to mentorship and development of individuals at all levels, high levels of team energy, morale, confidence and spirit, attraction of useful allies, capable leaders-in-waiting, successful completion of shared tasks, strong, steady, capable teams, and positive results.
Conversely, poor leadership leads to failed organizations, frustrated and indifferent people, unproductive programmes, stagnation, inability to realize long-term vision; conflicts and wasted or lost resources.
The leaders of today are being called upon by necessity to develop responses to complex challenges brought on by unexpected events and situations. Therefore, leaders of the future will have to embrace complexity and the skills needed to harness it. We must therefore ask: how can we develop and empower our children to become strong young leaders?
As a people we need to re-conceptualize what we envision our young leaders to be. This is a globalized world that embraces critical thinkers, problem solvers and innovators. Therefore opportunities must be provided for young children to develop and exercise their leadership capabilities – experiences that engage them in challenging action around issues that reflect their genuine needs and offer authentic opportunities to make decisions and effect change.
It is disturbing that too many of our children and young people are unable to read, unable to construct proper sentences, lack confidence – they are unable to stand in front of a crowd and effectively communicate. In order to develop young leaders, this must be remedied.
A cursory study of history reveals that many of the movements that changed the world began with young people. Therefore it is imperative that when developing programmes, we keep at the forefront of our minds the development of global leaders – new cohorts of young children who can think critically, communicate effectively, and are problem-solvers.
Parents, schools, leaders in this country and organizations must be the guide providing life mentoring and coaching relationships, thus aiding in the positive transformation of children who can be world changers. They need to set the correct examples for young children to follow.
These groups must see themselves as change agents to build and empower our children – the next generation – to become leaders who are good listeners, enthusiastic, have admirable attitudes, are determined and dependable, are encouraged and take effective action, are reliable and responsible and stand up for things that are right.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.; email firstname.lastname@example.org