What do today’s youth expect of their leaders?

Today’s youth have grown up in a different age than our elders.  For today’s youth, the closest phone is likely on your hip, the knowledge of the world is available at a few touches of the fingertips and any individual is increasingly able to not only consume thoughts from across the globe, but also produce them.  Does this generational transition cause youth today to seek a different kind of leadership than our elders?  One that better represents the style of life they’re quickly becoming accustomed to?  One which includes a process of governance which has consultation, explanation and participation at it’s core?  What do today’s youth expect of their leaders?

Today’s youth are looking for a different kind of leader and a different kind of leadership. A perfect analogy can be found in a recent study from the Annals of Behavioral Medicine which outlines how younger patients are more likely to follow treatment recommendations of a doctor who takes the time to explain a condition, present it’s treatment options and get patient participation in deciding amongst the treatment options. By contrast, older patients are shown to generally prefer a more traditional “doctor-centered” or “paternalistic” style where the doctor spends less time explaining a condition, seeks little patient input when it comes to treatment decisions and gets right down to business.

This analogy is startlingly fitting for describing the situation our people have with our island’s own doctor, our Premier Ewart Brown. While older generations may generally be more accepting of a “get things done” approach, younger generations are more likely to desire an approach that involves greater consultation, explanation and participation in decision making.  Of course, Premier Brown has gotten off to a good start in his attempts to consult with the youth through the online community Facebook, hosting Open Mics and going on College Tours

If Premier Brown is making greater efforts at consultation, why would so many of today’s youth describe him as “all about himself”?  Is it possibly due to the lack of the explanation and participation elements that youth also desire from their leadership?   Despite consultation with regards to the closure of the medical clinic, the Southland’s SDO and other issues, the full explanations of the ‘Doctor’s remedy’ and actual participation in the decision making process have been left out.  Is the doctor’s present approach more of a “doctor-centered” one or is it “patient-centered” and does the ideal approach for a multi-generational electorate cater to the distinct needs of each generation?

The youth are increasingly demanding more involvement in the guiding of our future.  They want to be consulted when there is a problem, they want to be provided options for solutions and they want a hand in the decision making process.  Is their ideal leadership much like a patient centric doctor; he’s the expert and the one doing the work, but they’re the ones deciding which risks should be taken.  Do today’s youth yearn for a greater form of democracy, one where the individual has greater rights and freedoms and a greater hand in guiding our collective future?

Indeed, the youth of today have grown up in an environment where information and freedom of speech are more readily available than it may have been in the past.  In today’s developed world, freedom of press doesn’t just belong to those who one one, it lies in the hands of anyone with a little technical savvy, which is largely the youth.  The youth aren’t satisfied with just any treatment for the ills of our island; we want explanations, treatment options and a hand in the decision making process.  The youth want to be engaged in shaping the course of their future. 

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4 thoughts on “What do today’s youth expect of their leaders?

  1. “One which includes a process of governance which has consultation, explanation and participation at it’s core?” Hmm, this is what we were looking for when we marched on Washington during the Vietnam War before you were born 🙂

  2. Interesting comment Susan. Here’s a question for you. If that’s what you fought for in the 1970s, why is it that the youth are still looking for it today?

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