Current and Emerging Leaders: A Paradigm Shift
As an advocate for social justice I have used a framework to advance individuals, organizations, networks and initiatives. The framework consists of four interconnected strategies:
- Clear and effective communication
- Mutually beneficial networking
- Mobilizing current leaders
- Cultivating emerging leaders.
I am focusing this blog on the latter two strategies and suggesting a paradigm shift in how these strategies can be designed, implemented and sustained.
Far too often when we consider mobilizing leaders to advance an agenda we focus on adult leaders rather than on young leaders; and when we focus on emerging leaders we tend to focus on cultivating young leaders rather than also cultivating adult leaders.
I advocate for shifting this paradigm by first acknowledging that young leaders should be mobilized along with adult leaders and second that we need to consider adults as well as youth as emerging leaders.
It is my experience that many young leaders are knowledgeable, skilled and connected to significantly and effectively advocate for a cause. They may be young and less experienced but their experiences are often extremely relevant to the cause and they are highly effective and efficient using formal and informal communications to inform and influence others. Combining the experiences, insights, strategies and resources of young and adult leaders, from my experience, create a coalition relevant to wider stakeholder groups and thus more effective advocacy.
Continuing with my suggested paradigm shift we should cultivate adults as well as youth as emerging leaders. We tend to focus on youth as emerging leaders assuming that they can enhance their attributes to be effective advocates in the future but from my experience many adults need to develop their skills to be an effective leaders as well.
Recently I had the privilege to co-create a Special Olympics China and U.S. Exchange engaging high school and university students from the two nations. We identified an Intergenerational Team composed of four youth and three adults to advance this social inclusion agenda (mobilizing current leaders). The corresponding strategies they implemented including nurturing youth and adults from the four school/universities to increase their leadership knowledge and skills to be deepen and broaden social inclusion in the local communities (cultivating emerging leaders).
We need to eliminate our assumptions that only adult leaders can be mobilized and only youth can be emerging leaders. Otherwise we run the risk of excluding individuals who currently or in the future can be effective advocates and collectively advance an agenda.