How Young Leaders Can Increase Their Competitive Advantage
I can imagine how excited you were on your first day in college or university. You probably saw school as your vehicle to a better life.
An average student gets into school with the expectation that the experience is going to be an adventure in learning relevant knowledge and skills that will equip them to become valuable individuals. Now, that’s how it is meant to be, but sadly it isn’t.
Our educational system is broken, almost beyond redemption. There are very limited opportunities available for us to access the quality of education required to compete favorably in today’s global marketplace.
Although, being a young person in Africa is very challenging, we can’t lose hope. I meet a lot of students complaining bitterly about their terrible academic experiences and how they wished for opportunities to study abroad. You see, if there are no opportunities to learn and grow we have to either compete for the few available or we create new ones. There are many young leaders rising today who are leading change in various sectors and industries.
Enough of the complaining guys. It’s time to take responsibility and beat the odds. Technology has provided our generation with a way out. Here, are a few great ways young leaders in Africa can create better opportunities for themselves and others:
1. By self-education
We need to redefine what education means to us and how we acquire it. The things you could not learn in class, you can learn online. There’s more than enough information available on the internet, such that, with your mobile phone and internet access, you can begin your journey to personal growth. There are various online learning platforms that you can subscribe to. Books, videos and resource materials that you can download to facilitate your learning.
The internet provides more than enough information for students to make decisions about their future and prepare themselves for opportunities. All you need is the right attitude to learning, consistency in your efforts and the discipline to overcome distractions.
You must realize that being online comes with enormous amount of distraction. Today’s student must therefore learn how to leverage the information available on the internet to close the gap in the quality of education available to them. Begin to use social media for learning and not just for fun.
2. Develop confidence in their ability to solve problems.
As young leaders, we have to begin to confront big problems with the resolve to solve them. We have to cultivate the “make the world a better place” mentality.
But to develop confidence, young leaders would have to find a way to bridge the skills gap. This calls for resourcefulness in mastering the special skills to take on complex problems in today’s complex environment. We can start by applying our skills to solve local problems that have global consequences.
Confidence in one’s abilities may require some level of inspiration and motivation coming from other leaders. Young leaders need to inspire confidence in others by sharing their stories. Today’s world only rewards problem solvers and you need a certain level of self-confidence to solve big problems.
3. Connect them to opportunities
We live in a super-connected world. 3G and 4G networks have put the world in our hands with greater access to global opportunities. Opportunities for growth and impact. Businesses can now access funding from other developed countries. Young leaders now have better access to scholarships and opportunities to work and study abroad.
However, young leaders are not connecting very much locally. The ecosystem does not support healthy collaboration among young people. We need to create more ecosystems that supports creativity, entrepreneurship, career opportunities and collaborations at scale.
To do this, we need to eliminate barriers to possibilities by making sure there is equity in how opportunities are accessed. We need to create opportunities for ourselves and making it accessible to young people in our space.
We can also leverage events as platforms to network with other young people. At these events, we can share ideas, skills, opportunities and also connect with each other. This would facilitate authentic relationships.
4. Promote their creativity and enterprise.
An enabling policy environment would ensure that we get better results for our work, but with or without the right policies, we must thrive. As Young leaders, we need to begin to help each other by promoting ourselves. We need to create a conducive environment for ourselves that supports creativity and enterprise. We must reward hard work and excellent work that moves the society forward. This is how we can create highly inspired communities of young people that are committed to advancing the course of humanity.
In conclusion, I heard recently in an event I attended that if your ancestors have failed you, you cannot fail your descendants. This is a challenge for young leaders to collaborate and build a better future together. Our competitive advantage is in our togetherness.