Lessons To The Young

Because we are heading into the month of June, which is Youth month, we decided to impart some wisdom to our youth. In the studio to discuss the principles below from Adriaan Groenewalds’ book Seamless Leadership, were Dr Danisa Baloyi and Louis Groenewald, two very wise individuals. Listen to the conversation here:

If young people want to succeed out there they need to work on at least the following attributes and skills:

  • ‘Healthy’ patience

Young people of today want two cars, their own home, flat screen TV, status, and wealth and so on much sooner than their parents ever dreamed of acquiring these things. It is exciting for us to meet with Executives in large organizations that are in their mid-thirties to early forties who in some cases are already wondering where to from there. While such achievements at an early age are commendable it is also the exception. Should it become the norm it could create a challenge and downward spiral. In other words as individuals achieve at a younger and younger age it may seem like a greater accomplishment, but when you think about it rationally, where will such a trend end? Yes, ultimately age is not the determining factor but life experiences, maturity, the ability to make wise decisions are. In most cases though one cannot escape the time ingredient in this recipe called experience. Young individuals must just guard against becoming so patient that life passes them by, hence a ‘healthy patience’ should not be confused with apathy.

  • Discipline to be consistent

This goes hand in hand with point one. Research shows time and time again that real success comes after much effort, perseverance and time. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called ‘Outliers’ and explains that no obviously successful person or even music band ever achieved before investing at least 10 000 hours or ten years. Young people must find what they love and are most talented at, dream, set goals and keep at it. In other words, become forward thinkers and movement specialists. Some may argue that they will change careers several times in their lifetime. While this may happen, they must be careful that it does not counteract consistency, so they need to be alert.

  • Clarity about their value system

The world is changing at a rapid pace. More than ever the next generation not only need some intelligence to handle complexity, or the emotional intelligence to deal with emotions and relationships, they also need to be able to make the right moral decisions under pressure and open scrutiny. They need to have a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. Further to this a value system also means they understand what they value most. For example, they should learn from young that family, health and reputation is valuable and not discover this after achieving ‘success’ and having to celebrate it alone, in ill health or behind bars.

A clear value system becomes an important contributing factor to developing as a leader.

  • Interest in leadership early on

The challenge in today’s society is that we prepare through formal studies to become confident at some technical skill – medicine, law, business, engineering, teaching, etc. Ironically, as youngsters enter the workplace, if they are very good at what they do they are promoted away from their technical competence and need to start managing and leading people. This becomes their most important skill for most of their career. The sooner they become interested in leadership and study and practice it the better off they will be.

  • Ability to simplify

The more the world attempts to simplify things and become more sophisticated, through for example technology, the more the opposite happens – life becomes more complex. Leonardo da Vinci said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. The future generation must hold on to this truth. The ultimate sign of intelligence is the ability to simplify. Decisions cannot be made in complexity. They must not be fooled by the temptation of impressing through complex talk. Great leaders are able to simplify and they need this skill in today’s workplace. The reason they should study for a good qualification is to understand complex knowledge so that they can simplify it for productive use – to create movement and confront barriers to full potential.

  • Broader view about life, people, and society

In South Africa specifically this includes a view that human beings are equal; that no race is better than another; that underneath our skins we all have more in common than not, in terms of our aspirations and the five universal commonalities. But, perhaps the paradox is that every human being is also different, unique and complex, as a friend of ours taught us. Our next generation should broaden their horizon and traveling is often a great way of doing this. We live in a global village; so much is interconnected. They must learn to see and understand the world as one huge interconnected entity, driven and affected by simple social, political, economic and universal dynamics.

Over and above this they need to start understanding the bigger universal picture, the core purpose of life.

  • Learn to work hard, but clever

The next generation must learn that they cannot achieve without consistent hard work. But, they must also learn to do so in a clever way – without sacrificing important relationships, their reputation, their health and their value system. Hard work only sometimes equates to long hours, not always. To find this balance is harder than ever before. However, they should never stop trying because then they will most certainly lose the battle overnight. Being skilled at point three will help.

  • Become a skilful confronter

A clear weakness in society, up to the highest echelons of organizations is the ability to confront others in a skilful way without contention (argument or quarrel). There are ways of doing this effectively and any leader should learn the skill of having effective courageous conversations.

  • Humility

Our young people must not let 20 years pass before realizing that humility is strength and leads to lasting success and legacy, while arrogance and pride is weakness that eventually leads to demise. All research of substance points out that those individuals of substance have humility; they are teachable; they realize that they are where they are not only because of themselves but because of the efforts of others. With humility goes an attitude of gratitude. Appreciate people, small things and life in general.

Growing up in today’s world is not easy, but it is and will be exciting if you focus on the right skills and attributes. We are confident that while we are well placed to share wisdom, more than ever before, us older leaders can learn from the younger generation who want, must and will be part of the solution to a better future for all.

For more on what we do to empower individual leaders, teams and organisations – read here

Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on adriaan@leadershipplatform.com for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022
Email: info@leadershipplatform.com

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


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