As the title says, one of my biggest pet peeves is surprisingly/unsurprisingly (if you know me) the term “Canada’s Next Leaders” as it is applied to Canadian youth in leadership roles.

Generally, it’s used in reference to how they are learning to be leaders and are on their way to filling leadership roles in Canadian society. I get that term for those who are first learning the concepts of leadership, but the second they start taking on any type of leadership role, they become leaders in their own right. Could the term be applied more specifically to elected leaders or management roles? Maybe, but that’s not how I see things.

Disagree with me? Let’s look at the most common definition of leadership, that is is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. Nowhere in there does it say anything about age-range. Be it the Team Captain of a school intramural sports team getting their team to the finals, the Coxswain of a Sea Cadet Corps working with their team to get them through a Pandemic or the business owner hiring their tenth employee to help with their vision of creating sustainable employment for marginalized people. They are all leaders! It is all about influencing/motivating/inspiring others to want to work together towards a common goal.

It doesn’t matter if the goal is achieved or not, because sometimes that is out of the team’s control. It’s about the process and the time between saying “let’s go” & saying “we made it”.

Let’s breakdown one of the examples I gave as – the Team Captain. They want to get their team to the School finals. So, they work with their team on becoming a united front. They work with them on technical skills needed for their game. They study the rules so they understand the parameters of operation. They take notice when someone or the whole team is doing particularly well, and they reach out when they notice the team or teammate is needing extra assistance. Due to the Team Captain’s encouragement, motivation and training, the team WANTS to work together to make it to the finals.

How old is this person? 13-14. They display more leadership abilities and qualities than some adults I’ve met. Do they have a lot to work on to become an even stronger leader? Yes, but what leader doesn’t. HOWEVER, are they leaders in their own right as per almost every definition of leadership out there? Also yes.

What do you think?