YOUTH LEADERSHIP AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

20 Oct

Written by: Legend ISRAEL O. PETERS

Image[Ed. Note: This article is the winning submission for the First Round of the recently concluded YLE’s Leadership Writing Challenge 2013. Enjoy your read and kindly start/join the conversation in the comments section below.]

“Leadership is complex” and “leadership is complicated” are two statements from a world-renowned leadership expert, John C. Maxwell that every leader—potential or real—must come to terms with.

While planning an entrepreneurship meeting recently in my Teens Church, we came to realize something interesting. Though we budgeted two hours for the meeting, we wanted or perhaps desired something comprehensive; unrealistic! Realistically, a whole day wouldn’t be enough to say all that there is about entrepreneurship and money. It ended up lasting a little over an hour with focus on only an aspect of the fundamentals. The same thing goes with leadership: how much could you expect from an article? I want to examine leadership with regards to youngsters.

Young people have not been so much involved in leadership as we see today, until recently. Thank God for the change and even a hope for a better tomorrow. Nevertheless, there is still a need for more penetration, because “the leaders of tomorrow” get developed and prepared today.

The average youngster dreams of a “virtual ideal world” in which the internet and technological strides in electronics are the most cherished amenities. As detestable as boredom, any youth connected to the internet and possesses an exciting electronic gadget can kill it. Homes get boring when interesting relationships are found outside. Young people of today love sports, music and entertainment. All these contribute to the fast pace at which the world is moving today. Nothing is as detestable to young people as whatever tries to slow down this pace for them.

Hence, leadership doesn’t appeal to them. Three factors are glaring to that effect:

  1. Commitment
    It is interesting to observe that young people understand the demands of leadership. They see what their teachers pass through, how hard their spiritual leaders work, how those responsible for them get to suffer for their wrongdoing, and how their leadership positions get to “take” their parents from them. A couple of weeks ago, after returning from the Annual Convention of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, I decided to ignite the fire I saw in young people there in my fellow youngsters. As I addressed them, I made a call for them to move from “ordinary” members and join the workforce of the Church. It would require them to be in Church every Sunday as early as 7:00am, attend another House Fellowship every Sunday evening, be present at the Workers’ meeting every Saturday, to mention a few. In short, their commitment to the Church had to be tripled! Only few responded positively and willingly. I asked the rest and the response ranged from “I’m not ready” to “I don’t have time.” Days after, I brought up the issue and one told me, “Forget that side”!
  2. Responsibility
    Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, president of Believers’ Love World Inc., once wrote, “Leadership is responsibility.” From my three years’ experience with young people, I can almost hear the average youngster’s heart saying “what concerns me?” He thinks it’s irrational to bother himself with other people’s welfare when he is yet to satisfy himself. Fallacy! He naturally shies away from leadership. Responsibility is a great task.
  3.  Accountability
    It is characteristic of young people to be right in their own eyes. Consequently, they tend to resent authority, which doesn’t appeal to their instincts—which is yet immature enough to navigate itself. Simply put, they don’t want to be accountable to anybody and if things don’t go their way, they are likely to quit. One once told me that he wasn’t going to engage in leadership in a particular place because the authority there didn’t appeal to him.

In the real sense, leadership is an intentional commitment great enough to be responsible for others through service and informed enough to be accountable to someone. It is an interesting adventure that one can engage for a lifetime.

 Personally, I love the thought of that. But where does it all start?

John C. Maxwell wrote in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.” You can’t influence someone you don’t relate to. It means you can’t lead people you know little or nothing about. They are just going to watch you take a stroll until you’re out of sight!

I have realized from personal experience that it is easier to influence people when you connect personally and privately to their lives on an individual basis. I therefore believe that the first step to effective leadership is an understanding of the followers. Little wonder, no small amazement when I read in the book mentioned earlier the affirmation of the author: “Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people they intend to lead.” How true!

ON PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Femi Ajayi, a young successful Pastor and writer said, “When you stop growing, you start dying.” All leaders are born; except they’re spirits. Some have the natural ability while others acquire most of the skills. As a youngster, here are some things you can do to discover your leadership potential.

  • Reflect: Have you often found yourself in leadership positions? Do people almost always listen to you when you talk? Do you find it easy to carry people along? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself.

Then…

  • Examine Today: Do you occupy any leadership position presently? Are you interested in any? What are your driving desires today?
  • Be Creative: There’s a common saying, “There is no harm in trying.” Try new things, accept challenges, leave your comfort zone, venture into new fields, and take up new challenges. Doing these will stretch your mind and dig out abilities that lie fallow.
  • Ask Right: Examining your life from without requires analytical and reflective skills. People have watched you grow into what you are today and others are still watching. From amongst your siblings, parents, teachers, spiritual and secular leaders, select the right ones to ask about your leadership strengths and weaknesses.

FOUR STEPS TO DEVELOPING YOUR LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL

After discovering your leadership potentials, it’s important that you develop them.

  1. Realize that leadership is not a solo journey and be honest with yourself about that.
  2.  Get a good mentor. This will save you time, energy, resources and minimize your mistakes.
  3. Determine to be patient. One step doesn’t make a crawling baby able to walk. John C. Maxwell teaches the Law of Process as one of his laws of leadership. Femi Ajayi (quoted earlier) said, “Continuous growth is critical to a fruitful life.” If you must be a successful leader, you must grow continuously.
  4. Read, Listen and Learn. Get the right materials and study them. Having a good mentor helps you determine the right material you need. Bishop David Oyedepo, Founder of Living Faith Church once affirmed that you tap into great minds by reading.

Finally, know that knowledge unapplied is useless. As you develop as a young leader, bring out the great stuff within. Apply the principles you learn and apply them if you want to get results and have something good to show for your development. Leadership is sweet. Leadership is interesting. More so, there is great hope for youngsters who start out early in their personal leadership development. I’m proud to be young; I’m blessed to be a young leader.

__________

Thank you for the time you’ve invested into reading this article.

What is your opinion about youth leadership? What advice would you give a youngster who has a desire to develop his leadership potential? How about becoming a leader yourself—right from this very moment?

Just drop a comment and you’ll get a response.

About Legend Israel O. Peters

Image

Israel is an undergraduate student of Mathematical Science at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. He is the Teens Leader of his local Church. He’s also a co-founder of a youngsters’ all-round development team, KIST! When Israel is not in Church or teaching, he writes. He is the Leadership Writing Legend of the recently concluded Leadership Writing Challenge 2013. He’s real fun as much as a visionary, pragmatic young leader.

You can connect with Israel on Facebook to get more inspiration.

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2 Responses to “YOUTH LEADERSHIP AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT”

  1. Israel O. Peters October 24, 2013 at 21:59 #

    I remember the first time I read this article, I thought to myself ‘the choice of words is a little bit complicated’. Reading it again now I realise why. When I first read it I was a bit busy online. Secondly my writing is different because I write like I were chatting. And lastly, it resembled all those articles I read on sites such as wikihow and about.com and that’s what makes it a great article! I bet I can never write better!

  2. babspet4christ October 28, 2013 at 23:20 #

    Nice article Legend!

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