Following on from last week’s article, a common theme in starting new initiatives and leading others is to add value to society. Today we would like to highlight five leadership lessons from someone younger than 25 years old. Isabel Nkosi is a recent graduate in strategic brand communication, and a MAD Leadership Foundation Fellow and these are her insights.
Lesson 1: Leadership Is not Always About Your Capabilities
The first time I was lucky enough to assume a leadership position was when I became a class representative in grade 6. From then on it became the norm for my classmates to continually nominate me for these auspicious roles as we progressed through school. I soon realised that some of my peers voted for me because I was seen to be the ‘popular,’ intelligent girl, while some voted for me because they liked my personality.
This led to my revelation that being voted into a leadership role, can sometimes have nothing to do with your capabilities of actually being a leader, and once voted in, will likely to perpetuate you being voted again. This can make you apathetic as a leader, however, must be seen as an opportunity to prove, and continuously improve, your leadership skills and impact in a position of power.
Lesson 2: Good Leaders Care About the People They Represent
In my Matric year, I was outvoted for a leadership position, by someone whom, in their motivation, mentioned that people trusted her to make a difference. I remember how those words haunted me. I kept on asking myself what difference I had made in my previous leadership roles, and it was at this point that the universe taught me what leadership is.
This was when the term “leadership” shifted from being about the title and benefits to the people you represent.
Lesson 3: Leadership is Personal
The older I get, the more personal leadership becomes to me. It has nothing to do with being appointed or chosen by anyone. It is a decision I take for myself to make a difference no matter who I am, no matter where I am, and despite the economic power I hold. More than anything, leadership is a passion – being passionate about recognising the opportunity to do better and waking up each day to do so. I have grown to not only accept but to believe that you can never be too young to lead and inspire others to do better continuously.
Lesson 4: You Are Never Too Young to Lead
If one is to observe the current state of South Africa truly, you would see the need for more young leaders to emerge and to take a stand for the development of our country. Young people are often told ‘you are the leaders of tomorrow’ and that ‘one day – when you are old and wise, you will be given endless opportunities to lead and make a difference.’ I disagree. We need more young vibrant, passionate and committed people to become leaders today because often, tomorrow morphs into never. South Africa’s youth need to stand up and take charge as the country’s new leaders. A fresh mindset that is aimed at benefiting the greater good of the country is needed today.
Lesson 5: Leaders Need Support
We are grateful for organisations like Make A Difference Leadership Foundation that is committed to creating a legacy of young leaders. These leaders will grow to be great role models. More importantly, we are grateful for the motivation and support to be leaders in every aspect of our lives as scholars and fellows of the MAD Leadership Foundation program. The world has never been hungrier than it is now for young leaders to embrace the opportunity to lead.
South Africa’s youth constitute 37% of the population and who else is capable of leading this demographic than those who personally relate to their challenges and obstacles? May the youth of our country grasp that there is indeed no more significant time than the now to unapologetically accept that they are a powerful force that is capable of making a positive contribution back to society.