There is No Such Thing as a Young Leader
We need to put a stop to dismissing today's leaders due to their age.
I see it time and again - a well-meaning university official or a pastor or a reporter calls attention to the remarkable work done by a teenager or college student and then bestows upon them the title of "young" leader.
Certainly it's impressive when a person under the age of 25 accomplishes something great, but marring that person's accomplishments with the adjective "young" takes something away.
I feel the same way about calling today's students "future leaders."
Those of us who teach, speak on, write about, or encourage leadership need to eliminate the adjectives "future" and "young" when describing people younger than us who are leading and leading well.
The fraternity president who motivates the entire brotherhood to recruit high quality new members is not a young leader. He is a leader.
The philanthropy chair of the sorority that just set a campus record for money raised to fight cancer is not a future leader. She is a leader.
The high school student who starts a blog to end human trafficking, the person who motivates his church youth group to clean up a lake this Sunday afternoon, the section chair who lets it be known that bullying isn't allowed in this band, the high school senior who writes letters to the editor - these aren't student leaders or young leaders or future leaders or leaders of tomorrow.
They are leaders.
Please call them such.
You'd never call a CEO with record returns an old leader. You wouldn't describe a politician who stands her ground a female leader. And you wouldn't call a university president who makes college more open and affordable a leader of yesterday.
Let's give leaders their due and use the right language when describing their work and actions. Let's don't limit their impact by assuming their skills are only of use when in the company of their peers. Rather, let's properly account for their work and their drive to make things better for anyone around them.
Remember - leadership does. It is active. It is in motion and looks like hard work, late nights, calculated risks, and new ideas.