If you’ve ever spent time thinking about or working with leadership, you’ll know that it’s something incredibly hard to define, and even harder to embody. But you’ll also know that within effective leadership lies the secret to making change happen.
A Response To Global Challenges
It’s no secret that the world we live in is facing challenges – visit any popular news site for a few dozen examples. But the fundamental solution to these issues lies in engaging oneself, but also other people, to tackle the various problems head-on. In a sense, leadership. To achieve these solutions on the long run, it’s a logical conclusion that we need to make sure that young people – the next generation of prime ministers and CEOs and heads of NGOs – are challenged from early on, and equipped with the personal values, passions and skills that they need to make a proverbial dent in the universe.
For this reason, AIESEC works every day, around the globe, to provide powerful practical experiences to young people, that will instill in them a sense of responsibility, as well as those leadership qualities that they need to make the world a better place. And while leadership is still one of the hardest words to define objectively, in AIESEC, we believe that there are four qualities, that are the most important to develop in young people, to shape them as competent leaders for our world.
The Leadership Development Model
The first of these revolves around world citizenship. People who possess this quality aren’t only interested in what’s going on in their immediate vicinity, but they stay on top of news and problems from around the globe, and take responsibility to solve these as well. World citizens are the types of people who act to build a better world, because they enjoy it. They know that even the smallest actions can be significant, and they strongly believe they can make a difference in the world.
Secondly, AIESEC experiences develop self awareness in youth. They plenty of challenges and give spaces for participants to reflect on what defines them as a individual, and by extension, as a leader. They allow participants to get to know their strengths and weaknesses, but put the focus on strengths. They give participants spaces to explore their passions and values, and consider how these can contribute to a bigger cause.
The third quality is solution orientation. An effective leader does not dwell on the problems and adversity they face, but moves quickly to consider how to move forward from there. Towards the people they work with, they transmit positivity no matter how uncertain the circumstance, and has a great awareness of risk, taking the leap when it’s needed, and when others may not.
Finally, AIESEC strives to develop a capability to empower others. Through effective communication skills, even in diverse audiences and environments, through engaging others in a bigger purpose and through focussing on developing and investing in others, this quality maximizes the overall effect of the cause of the leadership. It can make the difference between an effective individual, and a powerful organization – even a movement.
World citizenship. Self awareness. Solution orientation. The ability to empower others. These qualities aren’t randomly chosen. They are responses to the way our global society has been developing, and they are what will be required from the leaders of the future – indeed, from anyone looking to make a difference in the way the world works. These are the leadership qualities that AIESEC strives to develop in young people through everything it does.
You can develop these qualities as well! Go on a volunteering exchange this summer, to countries like India, Indonesia, Colombia or Mexico, and find out firsthand why contributing to our global society can change how you see yourself. Apply to opportunities at aiesec.org.