Today’s kids, tomorrow’s leaders: Lessons we can learn from young people

“Youth” is a term that receives a multitude of reactions – from grumpy complaints about their wild ways and lack of respect to eloquent speeches about them being the “people of tomorrow”. On the one hand, today’s young people face criticism for being selfish, overly entitled, defiant and apathetic. On the other, they receive praise for their innovation, forward thinking, activism and energy.

Today’s youth

Today’s young people bring some fantastic new approaches to our society – among them social media, crowdfunding, digital political revolution, the “anonymous” movement, young-entrepreneurs groups, creative office design, flexible working conditions, shared childcare, stay-at-home fatherhood, redefined gender roles and hot desking.

Celebrate International Youth Day

To recognise their unique contribution, International Youth Day takes place on 12 August – a date that aims to “bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s global society”. The theme for 2014 is mental health, and it’s one that resonates with today’s youth. They are challenging the status quo at all levels around a premise of making society work for people, instead of people working for society.

Demand what you deserve

“Wellbeing in their wealth” is the mantra of this generation. Why should either be sacrificed for the other? Today’s youth demand a job that accommodates their lifestyle, insist on socially responsible business practices and require healthy working environments. And if they don’t get these things, they’ll go into business for themselves and make it happen. They are the most informed, educated, communicative and networked generation that has ever lived, and they are not prepared to leave their future in other people’s hands.

What can we learn from today’s youth? More than we could ever imagine.

As young hands reach eagerly to wrest the reins of the future from hands who have only recently gained them, there is an inescapable tension. But a willingness on the part of the older generation to listen with curiosity and appreciation can bring about understanding and collaboration. Who knows? We may learn something worth knowing.

For more on these people of tomorrow, read about some of the best ways to raise our future leaders.

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