“Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Lead Anymore?”
It was surprising to me when I asked my group of students ages thirteen and up how many of them thought of themselves as leaders and no one raised their hands. I then prodded to ask them, “Who wants to be a leader?” Still, only a couple of students sheepishly put their hands up. This amazed me, especially since we were in our weekly leadership class.
When asked why, Sarah, an innovative bright fourteen year old replies, “Because no one trusts leaders these days! They are all fake.”
Wow! The honesty of this generation. They don’t beat around the bush.
If you think of it though, we can relate to this comment from Sarah as through the past couple years we have seen a lack of trusted leadership in our world leaders today. In fact, recent data shows from the Edelman Trust Barometer that the United States is at the bottom of the quartile for trust, experiencing an additional 5- point drop since the presidential election in November of 2020.
Why doesn’t anyone want to lead anymore?
Lack of positive leadership examples- If you look around at the leadership examples in the world today we don’t have the best role models. Some of the key figures in leadership operate by their words that don’t always match their actions.
Leadership is a lonely place-. Especially after the pandemic, many leaders did not have all of the answers and were afraid to step forward. This resulted in less leaders who were willing to lead through uncertainty.
It’s HARD!- Leadership is infinite work. It takes patience, understanding different perspectives, consistent feedback and most importantly, a genuine passion in valuing others you lead.
However, as a leader of young leaders whether you are a parent, educator, coach or business owner, we must take responsibility to set a foundation of solid leaders of this next generation. It is up to us to build a generation of strong, confident and resilient leaders in order for them to thrive in the future.
How can we fix the leadership deficit of this next Generation?
Give them a platform to lead. Whether it be a small project, a short campaign or a community event, today’s youth needs an outlet to practice leadership alongside an adult leader who can guide them.
One of the best frameworks to guide anyone in leadership is through the I Do, We Do, You Do, process.
I Do- This is where direct instruction lies. The leader who is leading is “Doing” and the potential leader is observing and learning. This is the “How To” phase of equipping a leader.
We Do- The leader and the perspective leader are doing the task together and valuable feedback is happening. This is where guided instruction happens on the part of the equipping leader.
You Do- The new leader is performing the task and the mentoring leader is providing feedback. This is where independent practice occurs.
Some of the challenges in the I Do, We Do, You Do process is that many guiding leaders shortcut the “We Do” stage. This stage needs to be rinsed and repeated several times with valuable feedback and a clear understanding of the “Why” behind the task.
Also during the “You Do” stage, the mentoring leader must take time in the evaluation process. The “you do” stage is not a one and done approach.
Be an example of leadership
One of the most prominent reasons for the scarcity of young leaders is the role models of leaders that lead them.
Leaders have to be the example of what they want to see in these young leaders. What we say and what leaders do, need to be in sync. This is called integrity. Doing the right thing when no one is watching!
In many cases there is incongruence in what a person in a leadership position says and in their actual actions. This causes confusion on those being led and an inconsistent leadership pathway.
Teach them how to solve problems
One of the greatest deficits in leadership of this generation lies in the inability to solve problems. People are quick to spot a problem, the “problem solvers” and do not have the framework to solve problems.
How do we teach young leaders how to solve problems?
We lead them on how to see solutions and how to find the best solution through the process of elimination.
We allow them to take ownership of the solution and try to problem solve even though they may fail. We guide them through feedback of experiences and different perspectives to help them make the right choices.
And then……. we let them try it and if they fail, we don’t swoop in and pick up the pieces. Some of the best leadership lessons are learned from failure.
In the guiding of problem solving we have to allow them to practice and hold them accountable for their decisions.
It is not a secret that our world needs more leaders who are strong, confident and resilient. There is no such thing as a “natural born” leader. Leaders are developed by the generations ahead of them. It starts with seeing potential in those you lead, valuing others and following the steps of:
Giving them ownership to lead
Being a positive example of leadership yourself
Allowing them to solve problems and fail. Learning and growing from failure with your guidance and feedback.
We have a job to do as leaders of the next generation. We can do this, we must do this! Lead on everyone.