You too can share your ideas for RedTalk #12 on youth leadership. Tell us what you think of John’s message in the comments below. Or contribute your own using text and video. Learn more about how you can share your story on youth leadership.
WHAT IS MY NAME, HOW OLD AM I AND WHAT DO I DO ?
My name is John Lawlor, I’m 26 and I work professionally for the World Organization of the Scout Movement in Geneva with responsibility for world events and supporting our World Committee’s workstream on “21st Century Leadership”.
WHAT IS MY ROLE AS A YOUTH LEADER?
I’m a reasonably young person (I hope that at 26 I still count as young!!!) who has a professional leadership position and is required to exercise leadership through influencing others towards the realisation of common objectives. The term “youth leader” suggests to me someone who is young, exercises leadership and whose followers (because you can’t be a leader without followers) are also young themselves. My “followers” tend to be both young and not-so-young. Do I qualify as a “youth leader” in the strictest sense? I’ll let you decide…
WHAT IS YOUTH LEADERSHIP?
There is endless debate as to what “leadership” actually means. For me leadership is all about “influence”. I would see youth leadership as a process by which young “leaders” influence young “followers” towards the realisation of common acts, projects or objectives. In the context of this particular debate, such acts, projects or objectives would presumably be in the general area of human development or on issues of particular concern to young people globally (e.g. employment, mental and sexual health, road safety etc.)
HOW DO WE DEVELOP AN ENVIRONMENT THAT ENCOURAGES YOUTH ENGAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP?
Governments must effectively manage their countries’ ecomomies and public finances so as to ensure that young people enjoy equal access to higher education and employment, irrespective of their individual socio-ecomomic backgrounds. Formal education needs to become far less instructional and “socially Darwinist”, and place greater emphasis on shared community and societal values, the concept of leadership and interpersonal skills. Non-formal educational movements such as Scouting and the Red Cross must continuously develop their programmes aimed and developing leadership skills in young people and inspiring them to lead their peers in taking action for the benefit of their local, national and international communities.
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