On leading

Young leadership

For they say that the course of human life resembles the letter Y, because every one of men, when he has reached the threshold of early youth, and has arrived at the place where the way divides itself into two parts, is in doubt, and hesitates, and does not know to which side he should rather turn himself. - Lactanius 

America is ready for the next generation of young leaders to step up in the home, in business and in the community — to analyze challenges and execute plans that lead to successful outcomes. But looking around, I’m worried that it’s not happening.

When surrounded by my contemporaries, I am struck by their lack of initiative and leadership. Young, quality people who can and should be moving into leadership roles are instead meekly holding back, as if they fear embarrassment and failure.

I wonder if that behavior — that hesitancy to take charge because of the risks of coming up short — is the result of how we millennials were raised. Helicopter parents protected us too much. Technology usurped our gumption and allowed us to become passive. When we were younger, we all got a trophy even if we didn’t perform at our full potential, and now entitlement is running rampant. Today as adults who have lived through a recession, 9/11, and the COVID pandemic, many of us hoard money and avoid business risks because we are more afraid of failing than we are hopeful of succeeding.

This failure to be assertive and exercise our critical-thinking skills is playing out in other ways, too. I see my cohorts succumbing to group-think, like sheep in a herd, failing to demonstrate any independent thought and critical reasoning. Too often we take as fact what we see, hear or read on our television and computer screens, without bothering to vet the information and examine its source for its truthfulness. This lack of investigation by my generation frightens me because we make decisions and adopt principles and ideologies based on the word of others, not through our own queries and discernment. In a sense, we stop thinking for ourselves. And when that happens, we are no longer able to lead.

This lack of leadership — among not only the younger generation but our society as a whole — is evident in our current pandemic. I saw groups of supposedly intelligent, free-thinking people coming together but checking their brains at the door. Inside, they seemed to lose their ability to have civil, open-minded conversations that weighed all the sides of an argument.

Signs of trouble were visible at the outset, with the lack of control, execution and leadership. People seemed confused, lost, unsure, disorganized. Here we were, trying to control of our health and safety, that would ultimately lead to a new opening of the world economy, and I could only wonder: Where was the leadership when it was most needed?

I was frustrated, too, by how some of my generation were falling for pundits who offered no detailed blueprint as to how to open the economy and restore the American dream for ourselves and our families. Some were swooning over socialism as a way to improve our country, only betraying how misinformed they were because of untenable financial consequences of executing that political philosophy. Many in my generation were shouting their approval of a mandates because it seemed to be in their best interest, not what was best for the nation as a whole. 

America needs leaders, leaders who possess the ability to conceive, plan and execute visions to propel the nation forward. These leaders need to come to the forefront now and lead the masses. It’s time for millennials to get real, to study, to think and to execute based on today’s reality. And we need to connect to other generations so we can cement our great nation as the global leader it can and will be.