Universities teach a lot about hard skills and theories, but when it comes to being able to implement the learnings in practice, a lot of young people find it difficult. This has also been noticed by many employers who say that young people are missing the soft skills needed in a professional environment. It is important that young people know how to manage time correctly, communicate effectively in different environments, and can get through challenges when facing them. But if universities are not equipping young people with these skills, they need to search elsewhere for the experience.
At AIESEC we have noticed the need of better leaders in the world and believe that leadership can be developed in anyone. AIESEC’s unique leadership development model seeks to prepare youth to take a stand on what they care about and become capable of making a difference through their everyday actions. We believe that by equipping young people with these leadership skills, they will be more prepared for the future. All our products develop four leadership qualities that are related to current world trends. These qualities are self-awareness, world citizen, empowering others, and solution oriented. Below you can read how these leadership qualities are relevant professionally for young people.
The declining need for formal leaders has brought about the need for more self-aware leaders. A self-aware leader knows what they are good at, what is important to them and what they are passionate about. When young people know themselves they are able to make better decisions for their careers as well. The youth of today want to work for a company that shares the same values as them and that does something good for the world. Being aware of their own values and passions helps them choose this kind of organisation and this increases employee retention. In addition, a self-aware leader focuses on their strengths over weaknesses, making them more ready to take on new challenges at work, not letting their weaknesses slow them down.
- World citizen
With globalisation, the business world has less and fewer borders. However, globalisation has also brought growing nationalisation in many countries. This is why being a world citizen is an increasingly important skill to have in the working life. Being interested in the world issues and especially taking responsibility for improving the world are essential to do business in a globalised world. AIESEC gives young people the opportunity to challenge themselves in another country. They are able to learn about the people and culture of that country making them more equipped to work with people from different backgrounds. This doesn’t only apply to an international workplace, but any job where there is a need for teamwork and interacting with other people.
- Empowering others
The quality of empowering others is needed to navigate the complex and interconnected modern world. Communication skills are vital for any relationships to work, so young people need to be able to communicate effectively in diverse environments to get their point clearly across and avoid any chances of misunderstanding. It’s also important that young people know how to collaborate with other people to achieve a bigger purpose. Lastly, by developing the skill of empowering others, young people will be able to contribute to the personal development of others and empower them to take action. This means that they can empower their co-workers to reach higher and challenge themselves.
- Solution oriented
The fast pace of the modern world also makes it a more uncertain place, and young people need to be prepared for change. Instead of being frozen in the face of a challenge, young people should show resilience and be flexible. The uncertainty of constant changes might seem frightening, but by staying positive, a young leader can steer their team forward despite the uncertainty they might face. This calls for the willingness to take risks when they are needed. This quality is very important in a working environment, as you can never know what changes might happen the next day economically or politically. A solution-oriented leader does not let failures hold them back, but gets up and continues to fight towards what they are aiming for.
We believe that if we develop these four qualities in young people, it will make them ready to face the challenges the world has in front of them. They will also be able to turn the theories and knowledge they have learnt at university into practice, making them more employable in the long run.2