We need to be the change we wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
What will this world look like in twenty years? That depends on us. That’s right; don’t look over your shoulder to see who else is going to step up. As leaders, we know that we shape the future. But how much thought have you put into how you will shape the future of your community?
Empowering the next generation of leaders will make our communities stronger. This is not something that just happens. Raising up the next generation of leaders needs to be as intentional as the goals and outcomes we set for ourselves. Barriers do exist; but as creative people, we can recognize and overcome them.
So, how do we do this? How do we make the transition?
In order for students to grow, we have to allow them to make mistakes. That means that we need to allow them to take risks, make changes to things, and have ownership. Of course, we need to advise and adjust, but sometimes the best lesson is when something is tried and does not work perfectly.
Just as we intentionally empower and encourage, we often inhibit our future leaders by disempowering and discouraging them unintentionally. Here are some common mistakes we make in the things that we say and do — mistakes we need to avoid making if we want to encourage our next generation of leaders.
“Young people these days want everything now; they do not want to pay their dues.”
Have you heard this? Maybe you have even said it. Well it’s true, and it’s ok. We are not a secret society with a special handshake.
Everyone “pays dues” to succeed; it’s just that as the times change, so do the “dues.” Employees are hired not because they are like us, but because they have something to offer. We need to allow the next generation to teach us new things.
“That’s not how I did it.”
We need to teach our students to be creative, think differently, and try new things. We want them to do this because we want them to pass this along to future generations. This means that we have to allow students to try things a different way. In addition, if what they tried does not work exactly the way we like, we need to help them figure out if their idea can work in a different way — instead of just going back to the old way of doing things.
“I tried that; it didn’t work.”
How long ago did you try it? Why didn’t it work? If you thought it was worth trying before, maybe it is worth trying again in a different way. Instead of just telling students that something does not work, tell them why it didn’t work, and then brainstorm to see if there is a way around that problem. We are in the business of helping people learn to think out of the box, so I encourage you not to make new boxes.
Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
One of the best ways to get students involved doesn’t cost anything other than time. Increase professional development of your students by encouraging them to get involved in the community.