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Leadership At A Young Age: Rise To The Challenge And Learn As You Go

Overcoming the challenges of leadership at a young age

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Young people often have a love-hate relationship with the idea of being a leader. On one hand, they are attracted to the respect, status, and authority leadership often brings. On the other hand, it sounds like a lot of responsibility and hard work, which many under the age of 25 find unappealing and seeks jobs elsewhere with less responsibilities like Kroger hiring near me.

With that said, many young people find themselves thrust into leadership roles whether they want them or not. This could be a promotion at work or being president of a sorority. When young people are faced with consistent situations demanding organization and decision making they are able to form leadership traits. It’s imperative for those in a position to step up and give it a try whether it is for something as simple as ordering shirts or deciding who next to hire.

Oftentimes, the reasoning for why a young adult shies away from leadership has to do with their age and the perceived risks associated with having responsibility without first accumulating experience. While we do not wish to discount the value of life experience, mulling over whether or not one is qualified to lead based on age is a chicken and egg debate with no real conclusion. Simply put, how can someone acquire leadership experience without first becoming a leader?

To help young adults to take on leadership roles, here are some examples and influences to draw inspiration from:

Historical Examples

We tend to imagine ideal leaders as being gray-haired and sage-like, soaked in decades of wisdom and experience, but many of the greatest leaders in history began taking on leadership roles at a young age, still possessing a sense of wonder and thirst for adventure. These individuals serve as examples of how youth is not a barrier to becoming an effective and influential leader.

-Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia: Began his reign at age 20, and by 30 had conquered the vast majority of the known world. Undefeated in battle, Alexander the Great remains one of history’s most accomplished military leaders.

-Augustus: At age 19, Augustus – then known as Octavian – became the heir to the estate and title of the recently assassinated Julius Caesar. Himself likely marked for death due to his inheritance, Octavian outmaneuvered his political enemies one by one until he became Rome’s first emperor at age 32.

-The Founding Fathers of the United States: While a few outliers like Benjamin Franklin cause the average age of the Founding Fathers of the United States to be about 40 years old, many of the names we associate with the birth of America were in their 20s and early 30s when the Revolutionary War began. James Madison was 20, Alexander Hamilton was 21, and Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was 33.

Historical Influences

The list of minds which have invaluable things to add to the concept of leadership is unquestionably endless; from the works of the Ancient Greek poet Homer to the memoirs of modern presidents and prime ministers, there is no shortage of wisdom available when it comes to how leadership works. With that said, we can offer up a shortlist of recommendations for those in search of an introduction to lessons on leadership.

Sun Tzu: Author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu’s lifetime spent as a military commander and strategist morphed into a legacy which has endured for thousands of years. While the title might turn some people off, The Art of War helps put into perspective the key articles of leadership under the most stressful of circumstances whether it’s on the battlefield or on a college campus.

-Marcus Aurelius: Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote extensively in pursuit of self-improvement and personal guidance. The collection of writings is known as Mediations and provides aspiring leaders with a detailed look into the mind of a true philosopher-king.

-Niccolo Machiavelli: Considered by many to be the father of modern political science, Machiavelli’s magnum opus is his work titled The Prince, which outlines a very cynical but equally pragmatic outlook on leadership and power. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “It’s better to be feared than to be loved” know it comes from Machiavelli. In modern times, his writings may seem draconian and even cruel, but if adapted to present-day sensibilities, many of the leadership lessons devised by Machiavelli remain relevant.

The concept of being a leader is something young adults will have to face at some point or another. Many are called, but few are chosen. The things which make a successful leader are in many ways intangible, but if leadership is in the stars for someone, chances are they will be the type to have taken on a leadership position early in life.

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