Raising Generation Z as the Leaders of Tomorrow: Are we doing Enough?
| Prof. (Dr.) Shauli Mukherjee - 16 Aug 2022

It is rightly said that a leader knows the way, shows the way, and most importantly, goes the way. A leader takes people where they want to go but a great leader takes people where they do not want to go, but ought to be going. The twenty-first-century world is undoubtedly a VUCA world where our youths are faced with unique and unheard-of challenges almost regularly as the four VUCA components of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity interact with each other in chaotic and sometimes conflicting ways. Considering the essential fact that the real world beyond the confines of an educational institution rewards those amply who can think out of the box and carve their path, hence, to sustain as well as thrive in this ever increasingly globally complex world, our youngsters have to be oriented more towards collaboration and cooperation rather than cut-throat competition. In this context, the significant role of leadership in scaffolding our present generation to confidently address and challenge the constantly emerging global complexities gains momentum.

Who else other than an efficient leader would appreciate the fact that our world does not require any more mechanical minds loaded with a vast repertoire of facts and figures – minds which are the by-products of a one-size-fits-all education system which are systematically formulated to think alike, rather what our world requires are minds which are capable of divergent thinking and out of the box ideation. We must remember that every child is born innately curious and inherently creative. It is the role of an efficient leader and mentors to hone and nurture the creative genius inherent and often latent in our youths. Human talents and potentialities are very much akin to natural resources which often lie buried underground and do not show up unless one looks for them and creates suitable conditions for them to thrive. The role of a mentor and a leader in a youth’s life is pretty much the same. It is the leader who nurtures and hones creative genius as well as celebrates the unique talents and capabilities inherent in our youth. Only a real leader can impress upon the fact on today’s youth that it is not important how much knowledge one has been able to acquire because the world does not change even a bit by one’s vast repertoire of knowledge but it gets better by what one decides to do what the knowledge acquired. Most importantly, a mentor can help in the process of discerning WHY we do what we do, that is to arrive at a greater purpose for all that we do or would want to accomplish in life. An effective leader can help young individuals to arrive at the intersection of what they are good at and what they love doing. We all know that achieving this point of intersection in one’s life is instrumental in finding out one’s IKIGAI – the essential direction, reason, and purpose of one’s life.

As leaders, we must attempt to develop a growth mindset among the youth. We must appreciate the fact that no matter what one’s ability is, one’s effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into an accomplishment. The passion for stretching oneself and sticking to it, even when things are not going that great, is the hallmark of the growth mindset that will enable our youth to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. A leader and a mentor can significantly nurture the creative and impressionable minds of young learners by truly empowering them by maximizing their potential to ultimately help them evolve into self-motivated and life-long learners. A true leader would allow the youngsters more time which they can effectively utilize in following their curiosity, creating, sharing, exploring, and experimenting with their novel and unique ideas. He/she would not stigmatize failures and mistakes and would consider both as essential integral components of an effective learning experience. Our youngsters should be freely allowed to learn new things, acquire new skills and embed new habits across all significant phases of their lives since this is the only way in which they would continue to evolve through their experiences and ultimately thrive in this uncertain VUCA world. As responsible and true mentors, we must give our youngsters ample scope to explore the three essential Ps – Play, Passion, and Purpose. It is the potent combination of Play, Passion, and Purpose that would make our young generation truly creative and productive and in turn help them to live a truly happy, fulfilling, and meaningful life. We do not want our youths to pick up careers or professions which do not align with their interest, passion, or talents -  careers that they are bound to take up either due to unrealistic parental expectations or pressing societal demands. Rather we want them to follow their heart in settling for a career of their own choice where they can express their real selves more aptly and fully. As responsible adults and more importantly, as true leaders and mentors, we must help the youngsters evolve into a more confident, equipped, dynamic, and authentic version of themselves. 


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