blog Leadership | 3min Read
Published on November 21, 2020
‘Be the leaders of tomorrow.’
‘Young leaders building a better tomorrow.’
‘Become a leader of the future.’
These kind of lines are thrown around a lot. Everyone has seen them pasted in different places, catering to some insecurity within us. Because who wouldn’t want to be a leader, right? But how do you define a leader?
Most think of a General standing on a battlefield, leading his men out to battle. Or a CEO leading her team of professionals to close a major deal and get featured in the news. Or a sportsman giving an electrifying speech to his demoralised team and leading them to an eventual victory. We all have our own version of what a leader is.
But who leads them? Does anybody lead a leader? Or is it just a single person doing everything on their own?
Well, a true leader leads himself. If leaders want something that they can’t have, they have to lead themselves to that goal. They understand the problem, they realise that the road is tough, they overcome their self-doubt, and they find a way to achieve what they want.
Everyone talks about Malala Yousafzai, as the ideal example of a leader for high school students. They talk about her Nobel prize, how she faced off against the Taliban, how she survived a bullet to the face, and how she gives speeches around the world. Wow, what an amazing life. But let’s go back to the root of her story and understand what made her a ‘leader’. She was simply a girl who wanted to attend school. Her dream was to learn, and there were some who wanted to stop that dream. So she lead herself, to keep doing what she wanted. Irrespective of the consequences. And that is considered true leadership.
People think about leaders only as those people who have followers. Now did that ‘leader’ go and actively find followers? Did he pay them to follow him? No. A true leader lives a life by different ideals and has the courage to do what others don’t. People see this genuineness and also want to learn those same principles.
It’s easy to think of being a famous leader someday, but that someday might be a long way off. What about right now? Do you feel you have the courage to be a leader for yourself right now? If somebody tells you to be a Lawyer but you want to be a Photographer, what would you do?Would you be able to understand their point and explain yours? Would you just give up? ‘Cause that’s not what a leader would do.
Nobody should be telling you to be a Malala or a Greta Thunberg. They didn’t start off wanting to change the world; they just wanted to change small things for themselves. As should you. Be the person you aspire to be, and others will eventually want to learn how you did it. A true leader creates more leaders, not more followers.
But what does it mean to be a leader?
Courage – Have the courage to go against the crowd.
Self-reflection – Reflect on what you have done and what you are about to do.
Self-belief – Believe you can make it to your goal or your dream.
Empathy – The best leader is the one who is most human and approachable.
Be genuine – In this social media world, it’s getting harder to be yourself. Find that self.
Don’t try to be a leader for glory or for fame. We mistake leadership with authority. We are so used to people in places of authority shouting at us, that we secretly want it. We see it in our teachers, our seniors, our sporting captains, sometimes our parents. But while authority can always be taken away, leadership comes from within. It is a choice, not a rank. Realise that you’re doing this for yourself. You’re setting the right example for yourself, one step at a time.
So, where should you begin? A Student Leadership development program like Harvard YLC (Youth Lead The Change) is the conference for high schoolers to explore leadership traits. Learn from the experts from Harvard and find your true potential.