Innovation: Five Keys to Educating the Next Generation of Leaders

Innovation: Five Keys to Educating the Next Generation of Leaders

A new generation of institutional and business executives is taking over the reins. The world continues to shrink and has become smaller. Technology has continued to advance at unabated and unchecked progress, and what was previously considered technologically advanced has become commonplace. Complexity is the standard, and changes are the only permanent. Opportunities, issues and significant challenges are all around.

Are the future generations of leaders becoming innovators or just followers? Resilient, assertive problem solvers or loyal servants to the status established? The answer is all to do with innovating education . . . or how teaching is adjusted to the needs and possibilities of the near future.

What kind of education should global education leaders give to future generations of innovative, positive educating leaders? If the assumption is that core competencies are required (engineers must be engineers, accountants must be able to make financial decisions, writers have to write, and the list goes on), what are the most critical components of education that will allow students to become life-long learners who are successful in many, diverse careers?

Here are five essential aspects that students should look for during their education journey. Teachers and educators should be looking to present.

  1. Language: We reside in language and build through the tongue. Creativity and innovation solve huge issues, taking advantage of opportunities and leveraging opportunities – all of which require advanced abilities in the language. The language that helps bring concepts to life is a catalyst for change and ensures that organizations have a consistent narrative. Without solid language proficiency, leaders struggle to collect resources, make clear their intentions and lead the kind of conversations that inspire creative action. The ability to speak, even eloquence, extends far above “writing rigorous” classes and perhaps an English course or two. The eloquent, creative leader absorbed herself in words, is comfortable with the complexity of language, and has a firm conviction of the potential of narrative.

The business leader drives to take action using words. The engineer communicates ideas and concepts through words. The nano-biologist has to write something at some point or other. It’s not enough to be proficient in your core field when looking to develop into innovation and leadership. Clarity, language proficiency and understanding . . . All of these matter for those who want to be leaders.

  1. Management: As an art, a skill to be studied and practiced, the leadership profession is a neglected area in education. Innovation, problem-solving and innovation are more about failure than occasional successes. The notion of “successful failing” is crucial to the development of leaders and should be something that educators teach at every stage throughout education for students. Students should have many chances to experience the joy — and the inevitable failure — of being a leader of being accountable. Our education culture tends to focus on success, and it encourages “high performance.” But being a leader requires taking risks by taking risks regularly, and with no exception at some point or another . . . failing. Without this personal and leadership development aspect, the education experience is mediocre, boring, unattainable and dull. Being in charge.
  1. Authenticity: Learning about yourself may be the most significant outcome of practical education. Self-awareness can lead to ever-growing authenticity, leading to more substantial development of leadership skills. It’s not about “accept me as I am” True leaders are self-aware, open to change and adapt and “be who they are when they are in serving other people.” Education is an effective process of growing self-awareness, coming to understand yourself, and discovering the value intrinsic to what you’re worth as an individual and finally, understanding the need for continuous development, personal growth, and continual learning throughout the remainder of your lives.
  1. Broadness: An old saying says, “specialization is only for bugs.” We are in a desire to be able to recognize, to make “experts” to arrange education according to “disciplines” (instead of around, for example, learning). Our educational system makes students “major” in one area. While this is a good idea regarding fundamental professional skills, this rigid system does not encourage the breadth of knowledge. We often talk about the admiration of “the Renaissance” person as if it was a perfect model. But we do little to encourage a “Renaissance education.”

One of the biggest problems facing our students and schools is to expand beyond the confines of “disciplines” and accept an uncertain and chaotic changing world, keeping an eye on the fact that what we call the “discipline” that we have today is the history that is forgotten in the future. Future leaders and innovators must look for, and schools should provide and promote, an extensive — comprehensive education. Acquiring the “Renaissance educational experience” is almost impossible within a framework that enables and even requires students to state “I am this and not this” at an early age and an early stage of their education. Leaders, innovators, and change agents, who are the people around the globe who create conditions to change – are seldom either this or that. They typically are the latter, as well as that.

5 Resilience: It’s a common phrase in the present, but it is still valid (and is likely to be since the time humans have been striving to achieve anything). The truth is that everyone has many careers, jobs and life experiences, and seldom will one method of thinking or a particular path for career planning last for a long time.

The world is constantly changing and evolving and those who believe they’re getting ready for today are likely to disappear in 10 years. Students require an education that makes them resilient and prepared to pivot around on a dime. If we educate as if the world was a permanent place and curriculums are designed in the assumption that there are specific pathways to career paths, in the end, we are teaching pupils to remain status-quo-driven. They will have limited availability of the status quo shortly. The idea of academic dogma is a threat to the ability to think, be flexible and resilient. Students must be encouraged to think differently about the status quo, question, and create strong points of view that are their own.

Teaching students to be innovative leaders isn’t yet a science. It is, by nature, a messy endeavor. It’s unlikely to occur in the secure, controlled, predictable, organized and linear world in which we like to place students. In a way, all this is the need to encourage students to dare to try new things and fail with enthusiasm. Maybe John Stuart Mill said everything that needed to be spoken about the importance of innovation and leadership with this one phrase: “That so few now would dare to be different is the greatest risk of our times.”

Aileen Scott

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