Power to the (young) people
Jan Owen is the CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians and YLab, the global youth futures lab and a former executive director of Social Ventures Australia.
Institutions around the world are degrading or are not fit for purpose in the Twenty First Century and they all have to be reimagined or redesigned or recast. While that is going on, you are seeing other movements crop up to address particular issues or challenges.
There is traditional leadership and there is movement-based leadership – which is incredibly powerful and is not mandated in the usual way by the institutions.
During the Marriage Equality survey, we saw young people in record numbers enrolling to vote –65,000 of them. They decided to get onto the voting system, not because they wanted to vote, but because of marriage equality and their very strong perception about what was fair and what wasn't. There is very clear data that they influenced the outcome.
There is something about young people at the moment being very, very conscious about issues and fairness and equity.
I think there is also a very strong trend around what we are seeing in Florida (in the wake of the latest US gun massacre) around student agency. I saw some incredible quotes about young people having to protect themselves and adults not doing it for them.
Then, there is also a strong trend around diversity. Is everybody getting access to the same opportunities? If you take that to the next generation, they see it as more than about women. They see it as diversity, people of colour, people of different abilities, all of that.
The issue for leaders is there are lots of Leaders. You may think you have institutional leadership, but there is a heap of other leadership which is going on around you all the time.
If you spend any time on YouTube or social media, you absolutely understand – particularly for the under 35 age group – there are a lot of people who are hugely more influential than almost any politician in this country at a non-policy level.
I am looking for leaders who are involved in the systemic change which needs to happen, the institutional change to improve our ability to live together, improve the economic outlook for people and improve social connectivity and inclusion.
If there was one kind of leader we need, a new kind of leader, it is that leader who is going to help redesign, reconfigure and reimagine institutional leadership.