Thoughts: Keywords in Youth Leadership

What motivates youth leaders? For those youth who are pure Type I, we (see Drive by Daniel H. Pink, 2009) can emphasize a baseline of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

In the YCISL workshop, we can have a forum discussion about various leadership opportunities for youth and rate each on the levels of AUTONOMY, MASTERY and PURPOSE.

Here is how we could explain each of the scales:

AUTONOMY: At the high end, the youth determines how and when something is done. In terms of problem solving, the youth defines the problem and determines the approach.

MASTERY: At the high end, the youth provides original thought and develops a novel and effective skill with a relevance to the problem being addressed.

PURPOSE: The youth understands the direction they are taking and sees how their activity contributes to the larger framework into which similar problems are connected.

Other keywords that helps youth leadership grow (sustainably) are:

EMPATHY: remember who your collaborators and audience are.

VISION/FORESIGHT: leadership is forward-looking. Clarity in the vision is key in knowing your direction, plus for others to want to support you. Foresight is necessary to avoid unnecessary risks and to attain competitive advantage.

TIMING/TIMELINESS: leadership among a group of 1 is not individually significant (ie, is it leadership if no one else is interested?)…however, experimenting with an idea that helps a future leadership idea may be useful. Don’t be discouraged if leadership takes time to grow to a satisfying level. Nonetheless, timing and timeliness are critical to establishing widely recognized leadership. Timing might involve the series of idea development activities such that resources and demand are synchronous with the availability of the product. Timeliness is more of a single instance in which the development of an idea or product gets peak acceptance. Think of this in terms of product cycles. Stock market investing also depends on timing (the purchase of stocks at lows, and sales at highs) and timeliness (the trading of stock on a particular expectation or event).

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