Youth Leadership Lessons from Ladders

In a world where cataclysmic rivalry is gaining ground over catalytic co-operation among peers, ladders have a graphic and powerful message to inspire true leaders to stay on course.

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Talentism Trumping Capitalism

Youth are the powerhouse of raw talents. Youth groups in innovation are, therefore, rightly challenged to harness their collective creative genius without getting trapped in the usual temptation of ruinous rivalry and unfair competition. Productive teamwork is the way.

Capital is being superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate — and therefore by human talents — as the most important factors of production. If talent is becoming the decisive competitive factor, we can be confident in stating that capitalism is being replaced by “talentism,” said Prof. Klaus Schwab in Davos during the 2021 World Economic Forum.

Setting the Ideological Pendulum in Motion

This week’s IBD Monday Motivation has raised a question that must set our ideological pendulum in motion. Everyone has invaluable lessons to learn from this exposition. The key question goes:

Are you a ladder, seasoned to painstakingly endure the heat of the sun and the soaking of the rain alike, if only to aid others on their joyous upward climb to the climax and equally support them on their less dramatic downward life journey?

Such is the priceless prize of true leaders. But such true leaders are scarce in a world that has changed, and continues to change. Ruinous rivalry is becoming the norm in an increasingly hedonistic society.

In Search of Cumulative Social Capital

Look around and evaluate your social circles and peers. Are they tried, tested, and trusted with your upward journey? Can you bank on them for cumulative social capital? Like the bible story of equal pay for unequal working hours, will they lose their happiness if they hear that, all of a sudden, you are getting a disproportionately favourable breakthrough for a small fraction of the effort they have put on to succeed over decades? Yet, as the bible story instructs us, there was no breach of contract as each person got what each was promised.

Each person needs to stay on course and appreciate the diversity of talents and the timeless waves of time and chance, which reward people unequally at different times. It is a non-linear complex, not a linear race. Together as a team, therefore, we all win from the synergies inherent in exercising cooperation and celebrating unity in diversity.

In their joint projects, peers and youth are positioned to gain more from the synergies that accompany a win-win collaboration rather than resorting to shrewd competition. Slowing the rise of your peers may offer some pleasure and satisfaction as a tool of exclusion so as to stay on top, but only temporarily. A vainglorious effort indeed, is it not?

The Ladder

Back to the ladder. Here are the key lessons to motivate true leaders, better still the youth, to gain more with transformed worldview and work ethics.

  • Ladders need a strong ground or wall of support to fulfil their role. Do you have the support of strong faith, mentors and principles as an aspiring leader?
  • Ladders endure the weight of the climbers. They don’t break, complain or recoil. In this, they can remain the faithful bridge both upward and downward for the climbers (Mpanda ngazi hushuka — Swahili for climbers go up and come down at eventually). The humble courage and staying power are critical to both journeys.
  • Ladders, when left and neglected out in the open after use as many users do, will just endure the changing weather indefinitely without complaining. Leaders and mentors, similarly, must develop the courage to ungrudgingly release their mentees and successors to move on for greater success and impact.

Finally, here is the summary of the above lessons in thirty words:

Leaders are ladders, leaning against strong walls of faith, mentors and principles while sustaining the staying power to lead others upwards without breaking, complaining or recoiling out of jealous rivalry.

Nashon J. Adero

Nashon, a geospatial expert, lecturer and trained policy analyst applies dynamic models to complex adaptive systems. He is a youth mentor on career development and the founder of Impact Borderless Digital.