That seems to be the keyword when I look at what people have to say about leaders. The top people are those who can take a group and make the most out of them; have them outperform their expectations; and, have them see new powers within themselves that would have hidden away. Don’t take my word for it. Look at Bill Gates:
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others”
Aside from the obvious – that leaders are no longer those who are best at barking commands – there is another important element to this billionaire’s statement. That is, ‘next century’. Our future leaders are in our homerooms, on the school sports fields and in our senior high science labs.
Well, according to Yvonne Bleam, author and speaker for TED, leaders are those who can model good behaviors. They are the people who take their own actions and use them to inspire others to greatness. More than this, the best leaders, provide roadmaps and solutions for others to prosper. When Yvonne speaks about teaching our children to lead, she asks parents to teach children how to pave success by reflecting on outcomes, understanding consequences and talking through what could have been done differently. Perhaps most important of all though, she recognizes the importance of understanding the unique gifts of each individual. By harnessing talent in one particular field, whether it be sports, science or the arts, leaders can emerge.
“Shouldn’t kids know how to be good leaders, too?”
That’s what Ms. Bleam’s child said during an eye-opening conversation with the best-selling author. What’s important here is the idea that kids need to ‘know’. They aren’t born with it. That’s right, everyday, leadership is knowledge we can pass on; something we can teach. In her talk, Yvonne lists out and give examples for different kinds of leaders: the kind, the respectful, the brave, the sensitive, the honest and even, the quiet. Some of these traits, if not all of them, are what we want to see in our children. But, we must teach them through the example: thanking the lunch lady, speaking out against injustice and offering kindness to those in need are things we can role model for our children everyday. Therein lie the building blocks of creating a towering leader.
On the Shoulder’s of Giants
Very recently, Stephen Hawking passed away. As one of our generation’s leaders in science, it is warming to know that this individual rose up because of the very factors discussed here. Hawking showed an aptitude for academics, his parents both setting an example as Oxford alumni. But, beyond this, they encouraged his progress by applying for the best schools and pushing him to attend Oxford. When he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, Hawking fell into depression only to return to his work through the encouragement of his University tutor (a man who Hawking had originally been disappointed to have been assigned). The people around Hawking saw his talents, they acted as role models and they paved out a road to success for him. Hawking’s legacy and leadership in the field of theoretical physics speak for itself: an international author, a knighthood, an Albert Einstein Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The list goes on and on.
Hawking’s example proves, that with good leadership, leaders are born. His legacy shows, that in the face of dire hardship, leaders can still rise to the forefront of humanity. And moreover, that the ability to empower young talents to do the same is what creates Hawking-like figures in today’s and tomorrow’s society.