A Missing Piece In Today’s Educational Systems: Good Leadership Development for Young Children – By Dr Aderonke Kujore Adelekan

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Until now, our educational systems globally have been focused on the core of math reading, sciences, and art but a key aspect is still missing and this is the reason for many of today’s societal issues.

Almost every problem in our society today can be traced back to a leadership problem; the absence of good leaders who are competent, ethical, and have a spirit of service. Particularly in Nigeria, the deteriorating state of voice and accountability, political stability, violence/terrorism, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption are all results of failed leadership. What is interesting though, is that all of this is continuing to deteriorate at a time when the number of leadership programs, schools, trainings, and such have been on a significant rise with billions of US dollars being spent globally on leadership development.

What then is the problem? If we are seeing more people successfully commit to and complete leadership training, how is it that the leadership issue not only continues to exist but it continues to deteriorate?

The reason is the absence of good leadership development in our education system. Let’s look at it in some depth:

– First, the real problem is not a gap in leadership but rather, it is a gap in good leadership. There is a difference. One of the more acceptable definitions of leadership is that it is the process of bringing others together to pursue and achieve a set vision or goal. This can be done in different ways; some are better than others. Most people can identify the differences between good and bad leaders in their lives because of how these leaders worked with them. Good leaders are ethical, competent, and work with a spirit of service. The spirit of service promotes listening, ethics, community building, healing, awareness, and so much more. With bad leadership, we see the absence of these traits. The source of our societal problems is not an absence of leaders but an absence of good leadership.

– The second issue is related. It makes a twist on the notion of whether leaders are born or made and suggests that every human being has leadership potential and what really matters is whether and how this potential is nurtured. If we look back at the definition of leadership as the process of bringing others together to pursue and achieve a set vision or goal, one will find that it is hard to find someone without this potential. Beyond this, why we continue to feel the issues that stem from leadership is that the traits that make a person a good leader are not cultivated in the many leadership programs and schools that we see today. These traits start developing in early childhood and are solidified over time. One’s ability to be a community builder, to show empathy, and to truly listen, are oftentimes well developed by the time one enrolls in these leadership development programs and if they are non-existent, it requires major work to unlearn the bad leadership traits that may have solidified over 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years.

It is the absence of good leaders and the difficulty in unlearning bad leadership traits that leave us with continuous leadership problems even though so many adults are enrolling in and completing leadership courses and programs today.

Our educational systems have missed this. The most effective way to combat and truly effect the needed change in leadership is to focus our leadership development efforts on raising good leaders as early as possible in life, beginning in primary and elementary schools and nurturing it through adulthood.

Research has proven the importance of early education and we see its benefits in many ways. What is still lacking though is a focus on the traits necessary for good leadership. Every school needs to institute a comprehensive leadership development program that includes both theoretical and practical aspects allowing children to grow their skills but it needs to start as early as 4-6 years old if it will be most effective.

On this international day of education, as many look at education with hopes to improve or reform it, leadership development for young children must be a key part of the agenda if we will close the gap in good leaders worldwide.

*Dr. Aderonke Kujore (Addie Adelekan) is a philanthropist and the founder of the Children’s Leadership Initiative

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