20/11/2013 08:26 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Five Reasons to Restore Our Faith in Future Leadership

The scale of the problems we're facing around the world nowadays clearly shows that our current model of leadership and way of thinking sorely needs a refresh. It requires change at all levels, but more importantly it requires change from each and every one of us.

To be different, doesn't mean to be better. But to be better, you have to be different!


That's why I'm here in Moscow, Russia to moderate a conversation among a group of 500 young leaders from 60 cities who are eager to change themselves in order to solve problems in their communities and make a lasting impact.

YouLead was founded in Russia in 2010 by AIESEC - the global youth network impacting the world through leadership development experiences.

YouLead Forum, as an interactive educational platform for young people, has united 500 most proactive and talented young people in Russia in order to give them a platform for personal and professional development as well as to broaden their perspectives on global issues and helping them make lasting connections to create positive change.

Fueled by the belief that young people are in the best position to upend our leadership status quo, they debate and formulate solutions for the pressing issues Russia faces.

Being with them restores my faith in future leadership. And here is why:

1. Vision-driven youth

In a time of unprecedented change, how can we prepare for the upcoming future?

We live in a fast-moving, highly interconnected and complex world. Breakthrough technologies, demographic shifts and societies in transformation are reshaping the world and have far-reaching social, political and economic consequences. Besides better information and understanding, more than ever, leaders need to have a vision if they are to guide nations, organisations and societies successfully. A big picture in front and an opportunity to impact the world drives more young people than ever before.

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

2. Whole System and Whole Self-awareness.

It's hard to set direction for the future when you don't know where you are in the map of life. Yes, many youth don't know where they are, true. However I sense more young people ask themselves questions like: What I'm capable of? What do I have? What is important to me? What I enjoy the most?

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ― Howard Thurman

Another fundamental capacity required for the future is whole system awareness, which is the capacity to quickly switch between different perspectives, scales and worldviews to see the big picture, interconnections within the system, and being able to scale down to small details.

3. Intention aligned with higher purpose

Nowadays, more short-sighted leaders fail to recognise that the common good is actually the only real way to prosper in the long term. We face a lack of values in leadership. And I think it is not a lack of values that we should be worried about, rather the kind of values.

The most successful companies of the future will be those whose leaders make sure their internal reality matches their external appearance. Next generation has to understand that the only way succeed in the future is to design business that is not only doing well, but also doing good.

4. Life long learning.

We cannot expect all leaders to be saints, or to have no interests of their own, or know everything about everybody - that is clearly impossible. But, in terms of developing a positive global vision, the sharing of information is key. We must work hard to present people with a different range of ideas, interests and visions, and introduce different types of people, information and values in an attempt to bring about understanding. There's always room for learning. If leaders stop learning, then it's the end.

5. Experience driven and action oriented

Unlike some decades ago, young people today are willing to take real actions besides just talking about what could be potentially done.

Before we start climbing, if we want to keep our feet on the ground, we have to put some responsibility on our shoulders. Our first peak is the best place to pause and look back, to see if we took the easiest route, to learn the lessons from the first climb. And it is the best place to examine the terrain ahead, to change our plans and goals, to take a deep breath and begin climbing again!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.