A couple of months back while speaking to a group of 200 international students at the Global Youth Leadership Conference in Shanghai, I was asked to speak about leadership and the next generation. A keynote that I have delivered to other groups before, I decided to focus less on the intangible “leader” and “organization”, and focus more on the role of the individual leader.
The importance of leadership as a catalyst. The changing expectations for leaders. How they, as future leaders of households, governments, and business, would have the opportunity to lead others (to achieve a goal).
It is a topic that I have over time felt goes largely uncovered, or is done so intangibly to the point that it leaves the audience left with the “see, I told you one person couldn’t make a change…. ”
Which, for me, is nothing short of false.
In fact, when I do hear someone say that I can only think that their belief in the inability of one is rooted in fear. Scared of taking the first step themselves.
I say scared, because perhaps they have an idea, or a feeling, that they can change, but then they begin to think about the “ifs”.. If I were X, then Y.. and I say unwilling in the sense that there are people who are simply not invested in the futures of their communities, companies, or environments, and even if they recognize the negative impacts that they are spinning off through their actions / lives, they are unwilling to make a change because they do are not invested.
Yet, with the right inspiration or catalyst both of these individuals can be changed, and regardless of whether or not they understand it at the time both of these individuals can take a step forward.
So, as a leader, I see it as my responsibility to inspire the next generation to take their steps forward. Step forward on issues they feel are of importance. Step forward when others won’t.