Friday, 2 October 2015

What do you teach future #leaders?

This week I was privileged to spend my time teaching students on a postgraduate degree course in France.

The course being international at its core, 25 students were enrolled from about ten different countries around the world. A real rich mix of culture, languages and ideas!

My hours were devoted to employment and employability, a very real and nail-biting topic if you ask me, as people still compete for a limited number of jobs. 

It is always a pleasure to teach young professionals, the students often have limited professional experience but they have tasted work and are keen to pursue a career in their sector of choice, becoming tomorrow's leaders,

Yet I must admit it was a little disparaging to see how little these young and bright adults knew about themselves and how few of them realised the importance of taking ownership of their personal development in order to become those leaders. 

Together we looked at self confidence, personal branding, how to establish and nurture helpful  relationship and navigate both on line and offline networking in order to make the most of connections.

As we did that we kept on relating back to ourselves by observing how are personal qualities, the way we communicate and come across to people, how our strengths and weakness impact others and everything we are trying to achieve.

I felt that for many of them this was a discovery in the first place, or at least, a connection they had not made. Or perhaps just something that had not stop to think about let alone analyse in depth. 

I wonder how we expect these young and bright minds to become tomorrow's leaders of people and ideas without empowering them early on in life to appreciate that leadership starts with ourself, with our ability to accept but also improve upon who we are and how we therefore relate to others.

This group was lucky as they had a been given the opportunity to do just that, albeit briefly and past their 20's. Yet hopefully the seeds have now been planted and as many thanked me for my work I feel reassured they will now continue to cultivate their' personal garden'.  But too many other professionals starting out in their career do not, ever, think about their personal leadership, their own development and how it affects others. And yet later on they are found in positions of leadership and responsibility in companies and governments.

I would argue that children in secondary school  - thus, teens- should be already given the tools to develop self awareness and enabled to appreciate that unless we are prepared to work on ourselves we may well reach position of leadership but we will not be leaders. This probably requires a whole new set of commitment from educational institutions, but I bet it would make a welcome difference to society! 

I wonder if any of you has a different perspective and experience to share? How can we instill greater self awareness and a desire for personal development in tomorrow's leaders? Please feedback and comment below, as always that is much appreciated.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

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