Every day, millions of 18 to 35-year-old youth walk through the doors of their workplaces with anticipation and great hopes for their future. Some will fall into leadership positions, while others may not. However, its something that so important that it should not be left to chance or to the few.
Every youth has the potential to be a leader, and their mentors and role models have the responsibility to establish a climate that nurtures their growth as self-sufficient, engaged citizens, and to develop their leadership skills.
Leadership is defined as a “process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” Isn’t that a skill we would like all our students to have? When students have the opportunity to lead, they become architects of their futures and change agents in their schools and communities.
Adults sometimes doubt the readiness of young adolescents to be leaders or perhaps they are apprehensive about what will happen if they share the mantle of leadership with students. That concern ignores one of the key attributes of effective youth mentorship.
Effective youth mentorship empowers youth and provides them with the knowledge and skills to take control of their lives.
Writing in Forbes magazine, Erika Andersen, the author of “Leading So People Will Follow,” says that, like most things, leadership capability falls along a bell curve. So the fact is that most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders.
Leadership is an essential skill set that should be imparted in all youth at various stages of their lives
Providing all youth with leadership opportunities helps them grow into responsible adults. If we want our youth to work in partnership with adults, we must give them the opportunities to develop leadership skills that allow them to manage time, work as a team, set goals, solve problems, facilitate meetings, defend positions, and make effective presentations. In other words, we must help them develop effective life skills.
Too often, we defer leadership to later grades or even to adulthood, and then ask people to be leaders, to make critical decisions when they have never developed that skill. While mentors should help youth practice making decisions at all levels, it is critical in the youthful years to start making some decisions with consequences.
If we ever plan to ask youth to lead, we must prepare them. If we don’t help them practice decision making, we are setting them up to fail when we do so
We need to create two resources that help identify the different stages in youth engagement/leadership and the adults’ supporting roles at each stage: Understanding the Continuum of Youth Involvement and Youth-Adult Continuum.
The first shows youth development from participation to voice, leadership, and engagement. The second identifies the roles of adults as they support youth along with the development of continuum roles that require the re-envisioning of adult–youth interactions.
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Author: Robin Mugerwa
As a founder of Pearl Generation Uganda, (PG-UG) Innocent, has a profound interest in youth mentorship and leadership. He devotes himself to helping young people around the world achieve their dreams. He has also worked with many different organizations such as the Community Resource Development Initiative, Del Youth Group, Reference Health Service Uganda and Rincol Tech.
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