This month we celebrate the leadership of two past presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. They were effective leaders because each maintained a high standard of personal ethics. At times, looking at the ethical standards of our recent past leaders, it makes one wonder whether future leaders of our country in all endeavors, not just politics, will embrace the high moral and ethical standards of those presidents.
An interesting article about raising young leaders of tomorrow spoke to the issue of constant and easy rewards hindering instead of stimulating the development of a student’s leadership abilities. According to the study mentioned in the article, a child’s intrinsic motivation is fundamental to developing leadership skills. Encouragement and a passion for learning instilled by parents and educators helps students find and develop the leader within them.
Many educators today are proponents of service learning models that engage students to become problem-solving critical thinkers. Many organizations are invested in developing leadership skills beyond classroom walls like Worldstrides, the largest educational travel organization in the U.S. Another tool, mentoring, can be an invaluable means to encourage higher goal setting and achievement levels in our future leaders.
As Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D. of Stanford has said in her book A Long Bright Future, a new script needs to be written that should “diffuse work across the life span.” She challenges the boomer generation’s leaders and educators to “set the cultural stage for entitlements, contributions, and family roles.”
Leadership isn’t a static endeavor. Now more than ever, leaders must embrace change because so much of today’s world is uncharted territory. These young and future leaders are being called Generation Flux, because they thrive in this fluid and fast-paced environment. Bold vision and bold moves that articulate this new script, along with principled values, are required.
It doesn’t hurt to turn to history and to study great leaders’ lives like Lincoln and Washington for inspiration.