A few have contacted me to ask what is actually in my recent book, Ten Leadership Lessons You Must Teach Your Teenager, and in what way is it different to the zillion other books on leadership?
I think my book is different because it has not been written for the corporate high-flyer who is looking for a bit of distraction while munching on peanuts at 10 000 feet. This is a book for mums and dads to share with their teenage children.
Many real-life heroes and heroines are mentioned, but the leadership challenges presented are largely based on what the contemporary teen can reasonably be expected to achieve.
Furthermore, it is a book that acknowledges the important role that women play in leadership as well as men. The contemporary style of leadership, which uses a more consultative and communal style of decision making, is an art form women perfected centuries before any man latched on to the idea.
Another important element of Ten Leadership Lessons You Must Teach Your Teenager is the realistic expectations it makes of parents and their children. Airport books usually require you to have made your first million dollars by the age of twenty-one. This book suggests you start by learning to change a tyre.
Within Ten Leadership Lessons You Must Teach Your Teenager it is suggested that there is:
1. A choice to make: We are all called to lead at certain points in our life. The question is, will we lead? If so, why? Motives for leadership can vary from the selfish to the altruistic. Our sons and daughters can choose to lead and choose to follow.
2. A discipline to learn: Life is not just about finding yourself – it is about creating yourself. This can take time and effort. Our sons and daughters need to understand that creating something special requires sacrifice and discipline.
3. An example to follow: History is awash with examples of leadership, but so too is contemporary life. Today, the definition of leadership is rather different from that of past years. Our sons and daughters need to adopt a leadership style that suits the time in which they live.
4. A villain to defeat: There is evil in the world that must be confronted. Institutional and individual wrongdoing needs to be identified and dealt with. Our sons and daughters need to know there is a place for moral outrage and a time for action.
5. A calling to hear: There is a need to be informed about what is going on in the world. This enables the adoption of causes, formation of convictions and creation of goals. Our sons and daughters should be encouraged to find out what it is they were put on this earth to achieve.
6. A skill to have: For leadership to be effective, it must have impact. There is an armoury of skills that can be acquired, which can result in more persuasive leadership. Our sons and daughters should become gifted in at least one skill they can use to benefit the broader community.
7. A team to assist: Leadership is not about being able to do things. It is about being able to get things done. This requires teamwork. Teams can be virtual or real. In either case, our sons and daughters need to learn the art of delegation and being part of a team.
8. A strategy to adopt: It is not good enough for a leader to have a plan – it needs to be a strategic plan. Skilled problem solving can lead to more successful leadership. Our sons and daughters need to recognise that different strategies are needed for different situations.
9. A costume to wear: How we act and how we look can determine how convincing we are as leaders. Bearing and behaviour are also important. Our sons and daughters have many ‘costumes’ to choose from. They need to make the right choice at the right time.
10. An ending to have: Leaders tend to be judged more on how they finished than on how they started. Our sons and daughters will require persistence, resilience and courage to
Each of our sons and daughters is unique and must be allowed to remain so rather than conforming to a definition of success imposed on them by others. That said, there is a compendium of leadership wisdom provided by history and validated by the present that can profitably be taught by parents.
If Ten Leadership Lessons You Must Teach Your Teenager has captured some of this wisdom and suggested ways in which it might be shared with our sons and daughters, it will have served its purpose.