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Leadership of Youth in Nation Building

What is “Leadership of Youth in Nation Building”? It would be wise to get the


meaning of these individual terms to get a clearer picture before we even go
further.

The National Youth Development Policy of Malaysia defines youth as people aged
between 15 and 40 years old. It stipulates that the main focus of youth
development programs and activities in the country should be targeted to young
people aged 18 to 25 years old.

In general, leadership is a process by which a person influences others to


accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more
cohesive and coherent. Leaders carry out this process by applying their
leadership attributes, such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and
skills. Leadership makes the followers want to achieve high goals, rather than
simply bossing people around.

A nation can be defined as a territory or country as political entity or a grouping


of people who share real or imagined common history, culture, language or
ethnic origin, often possessing or seeking its own government

The idea of generating youth to become great leaders in nation building can be
put as to construct a well developed and competitive characteristic in our youth
to become leaders and also to improve the quality and standards of our beloved
nation. The process of producing a more grown up youth is definitely not an easy
task and to simply sit down and do nothing about it and yet hoping to have great
progressive youth is a very tall order.

Most youth nowadays seem to be under-developed in the sense of lacking certain


vital skills and not having a solid mind set despite the fact that the world is
effortlessly moving forward. We can clearly see there are some of them who are
still in their own sweet wonderland and not even bothered about what is
happening around them. Knowing the characteristics needed to generate great
leaders and how to achieve the leadership skills are essential in developing the
nation.

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The most vital and memorable part of a person’s life is the “Youth Era”. Most of
the great achievements accomplished by most heroes are when they were in
their youth. The pace of thoughts in the mind, the race between the ideas to do
the assigned work in the most legible manner, managing the omnipresent day-to-
day activities and relations, without getting nervous or tensed, are the gifts of the
youth. Neither children nor the aged have such a vast amount of patience in
dealing the things in a proper manner. Young people are vested with a good
amount of creativity, using which they may either turn their society, thereby their
nation into a better place to live, or they may even be the cause for its downfall.
Hence it is quite clear that the people, who possess the power to change the fate
of a nation, are none but the youth.

The term nation building is usually used to refer to a constructive process of


engaging all citizens in building social cohesion, economic prosperity and political
stability in an inclusive and democratic way. It is important to note that the
priceless resource of any country is its human resource, because mankind is the
foundation or the corner stone of any development and civilization. Young people
are the crucial segment of a nation’s development. Their contribution therefore is
highly needed.

One way of contributing to nation development is through culture. Malaysia is


known with its fascinating cultures that Malaysian people have been and still
practicing. These cultures represent identity, image and background of our
society. There are countless actions that can be taken by the youth to safeguard
these priceless cultures from being abandoned. For example, in primary and
secondary schools, students can wear “baju Melayu” on Fridays to show their
love for the culture. Other than that, young people in IPTA and IPTS can organize
activities that instill cultural passion amongst them such as having cultural dance
festivals, traditional sports competition such as “congkak” and “gasing”. At
workplace, they also can contribute by dressing up with cultural clothes such as
“baju batik” and “baju kurung”. This may not sound like an effective contribution
but it definitely leaves a great psychological effect on everyone.

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Furthermore, the growth of a nation also relies on its political development. Youth
have potential role as nation builders through political participation. However,
nowadays youth are often excluded from political participation mainly due to lack
of skills, qualities and motivation. Youth must follow news and find information
through mass media to keep themselves abreast of the current events in the
country. More over, people also do not provide proper exposure to welcome the
youth to share power with the adults and voice out their opinions. These
problems are the main culprit of youth being not participative in political aspect.
One way tackling this situation is by the participation of parents in the upbringing
of their children from the very early stage. Parents should expose their children
to activities that can foster great individual skills such as persuading and
supporting the children to join debates and taking their opinions in matters
related to everyday life situations. These methods could help to build confidence
in their children. The other channel for youth to make their voices heard is by
writing opinion letters to print media such as newspapers or magazines or the
Internet in particular to express their opinion on certain issues. These are the
essential recipes for youth to be politically participative.

Youth also must play their role in contributing to nation’s economy development.
Economic development is very important because it creates wealth in which it is
beneficial to the community. One way of contributing the economy of nation is by
engaging in the business world. There are certain guidelines for youth to
contribute to nation building economically one of which is that youth should
define their own development goals and objective in the very first place. Other
than that, they also should fine role models to help them engage in their
development program and integrate themselves into all local and national frame
work. However, youth should not only be inspired by their role models but they
must also find a way to inspire and empower others. Being involved in this field
will not only let the youth develop soft and entrepreneurial skills but also will
definitely prosper the economy and benefit everyone by providing them a
platform to live a prosperous life.

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There are some characteristics or skills needed by youth leader in order to
contribute in nation building. Firstly, they must have a clear vision of themselves,
others, and the world. Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your life
purpose? How do you want to influence others? How do you want to contribute to
yourself, your family, friends, colleagues, and the world? All these questions are
formulated to get a concrete vision of youth leadership. Actually youth must think
and set up their mission and vision properly and also have a clear picture of what
they want to achieve in their lives. This will help them to stay on the right track.
Other than that, youth also must know and utilize their strengths and gifts. In
reality people have unique gifts that they were born with and they also have
certain personal strengths that they have developed over their lifetimes.
Realizing and utilizing these gifts and strengths will assist youth in being a
formidable leader.

Effective youth leadership characteristics or skills can be obtained by practicing


empathy, being understanding and being able to identify other people’s feelings,
situation and goals. A good leader will be able to empathize with some problems,
while being able to negotiate for an agreeable solution. More than that youth also
must learn how to practice morals and values in their daily lives. This is very
important in order to develop their career and relationships effectively. On the
other hand, making choices and taking actions aligned with morals and values
also will facilitate youth to excel profoundly.

Having great youth leadership characteristics includes being able to clearly and
specifically communicate your vision, goals, skills, intentions, and expectations to
others. This also includes your ability to listen to what other people are
consciously or unconsciously communicating about. To become a great
communicator, one must constantly strive to improve his or her verbal,
nonverbal, and listening skills. They also must be comfortable running meetings
and making presentations because this will help them in building their respect
and integrity. Presentation skills have to be excellent, and it must be able to
convey accurately the essence of the subject at hand. Such communication skills
must be learned along the way to be a good youth leader.

Youth leadership must have definitive goals and must be able to follow concrete
action plans. They have to know where their destination is before mapping out a

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plan to get there. To improve youth leadership skills, one must first set specific
life goals with appropriate timelines. An effective leader is calm and composed in
the face of turmoil and uncertainty. This stability like a rock gives certain sense
of character and offers some peace of mind to others who may be mindlessly
caught up in that turmoil.

Other than that, one of the vital characteristics of a great leader is to be able to
maintain a positive attitude. No one respects a negative person. With a positive
attitude, people are naturally attracted to it and also it will lead them to a
happier life, as well as be surrounded by other positive people. Youth leader
should know how to motivate others to greatness. Thus they should assist others
in recognizing and utilizing their strengths, gifts, and potential. Motivating others
to their own greatness will improve the group energy, increase the vitality of the
projects, and move the youth themselves forward towards achieving their goals
and vision.

One must also be willing to admit and learn from failures and weaknesses. In
reality no one is perfect and everyone has made mistakes in their lives thus they
must learn to face it. The most successful youth leaders know that the key to
success is not in avoiding falling or failing, but to learn from their mistakes. As
strong leaders, they must also be able to communicate about their weaknesses
to their team, so that their team can appoint someone who knows very well
about that particular task or activity.

Lastly, youth leaders must continue on learning for the sake of building a
stronger base of education and improve themselves in any aspects relevant to
them. These persistent urge of wanting to improve one self is the key of being a
great leader. The person who thinks he is an expert, has a lot more to learn.
Never stop learning. Youths must be receptive to everyone’s perceptions and
information from around the world and beyond. There a lot more characteristics
that may contribute in molding youths into great leaders but the characteristics
mentioned above are the crucial factors that youth should pay attention to in
order to become great and effective leaders.

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Good leaders are made not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can
become an effective leader. However, nine important leadership skills or abilities
reveal leaders from followers and they include someone who is influential,
prioritized, integrative, a creator of positive changes, a problem solver, able to
maintain good attitude, able to work with people, a visionary person, and be self
disciplined.

The ability to influence workers is important because it directly affects the


chances of obtaining followers. Everybody influences someone else, and
everyone is influenced by someone as well. But, to be an effective influencer you
have to understand what type of leader you are and grow upon that. There are
five levels of leadership. Level one is someone who uses their title or position to
lead. This level is the least effective because people follow you because they
have to. Level two is someone who gets people to work for them that are not
obligated to do so. A person on this level will lead by interrelationships and
people will follow you because they want to. Level three is someone who makes
changes and shows results. At this level people follow you because of what you
have done for the business. Level four is someone who empowers and motivates
not only himself but others as well. At this level people follow because of what
you have done for them. Level five is who has proven themselves a true leader
over many years. At this level people will follow you because of who you are and
what you represent. Knowing what level of leadership you are in is important as it
affects the way you influence others.

Other than that, the ability to prioritize is important in being a leader because
knowing how to prioritize things of high importance separates the leaders from
the followers. Success can be defined as the achievement of something planned.
These days it's not about how hard you work, it's about how smart you work and
how well you plan. Prioritizing allows you to be more efficient and more effective.
However, efficiency is the basis for survival. Effectiveness is the basis for
success.

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Having integrity is an important trait in a leader because integrity means to be
complete and unified and in order to run a business, the leader and employees
must be on the same page. Integrity is the base for knowing what they ought to
do verse what they want to do. Gaining the trust of employees suggest that they
have to be genuine and do the same as what they expect from employees. The
secret to growing and moving back is called integrity.

Being able to create positive changes is important in being a leader because


when the leader changes his or her ways of leading certain agenda, so does the
business. Therefore if the leader practices positive changes, it will have a positive
outcome on the business as well. To be a good leader they have to be open
minded to new ideas. New ideas bring about change and the leader's
responsibility is to make this change positive and effective. A business won't
grow if it does not open up to these new ideas instead of staying at its comfort
level. Too many people have negative thinking and they are usually satisfied with
where they are at and therefore feel there is no necessity to change. Therefore
leaders must develop trust with their employees. The more faith people have in
their leader, the more willing they are to change.

Furthermore, being able to solve problem is a crucial criteria in a leader because


problems without a doubt will always occur and it is the leader’s responsibility to
tackle the problem as effectively as possible. Leaders must be able to change
their perspective, however, not their problem. The real test of a leader is their
ability to recognize a problem way before it becomes an even bigger one and be
on the lookout for signs of an upcoming ordeal and fix it. In order to fix a problem
a leader must, first, define the problem. They must be able to look beyond the
symptoms and find the main source of the dilemma. Next, a leader has to
prioritize the problem. They can't try to tackle all their problems at the same
time, but they have to line them up one by one and approach them one at a
time. Next, a leader has to define the problem. They must simply ask themselves,
"What is happening to cause this problem? Where do I start?" After determining
the problem and selecting the best possible outcome, a leader must, lastly, form
principles and polices to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Leaders must be able to maintain a certain standards of good attitude because


without a good or positive attitude it is very difficult for them to reach their

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maximum potential. Whenever we hear or utter the word leader itself we think of
high determination. So those who do not possess positive or good attitude
towards anything will definitely give up. There is a saying “What happens to you
in life takes only 10 percent while the other 90 percent is how you react to it”.
The phrase suggests that reaction plays a vital role and in order for leaders to
react effectively, they have to analyse themselves from time to time. Having a
positive attitude during the analysis will definitely foster great outcomes.

Moreover, leaders must have strong people skill or better known as public
relation skills because they must be able to influence people to further influence
others, rather than just influencing people to follow them. In addition, the
development and growth of the workers directly determines the development
and growth of the business. The more people the leader is able to mould and
change, the better the degree of their dreams will be. There are three levels of
people / work skills. Level one is a person who works better with people, known
as followers. Level two is a person who helps people to work better, known as a
manager. The last level is a person who develops people into better ones, known
as the leader. The last level is the best way for a company to grow thus having
these essential skill which is being able to work with people will be of assistance
for the leader to communicate effectively, inspire and enhance his followers to
perform more competitively.

A leader must also have visions in order to achieve great leadership skills.
Visionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination,
insight, and boldness. They present a challenge that calls forth the best in people
and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. They also have their
eyes on the horizon and always see the big picture and think strategically. More
over, visionary leaders are good with actions as well as words, and so can bring
their vision into being in the world, thus transforming it in some way.

Visionary leadership is based on a balanced expression of the spiritual, mental,


emotional and physical dimensions.

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It requires core values, clear vision, empowering relationships, and innovative
action. When one or more of these dimensions are missing, leadership cannot
manifest a vision.

Discipline can be roughly defined as doing something you really don't want to do,
so that you can achieve what you really wanted to do in the first place. It's paying
the price in the little things so that you can buy the bigger thing. A leader must
possess disciplined thinking, disciplined emotions and disciplined actions in their
pursuit of success. Having a disciplined thinking style helps to keep the mind
active. Leaders have to take on mental challenges in order to develop the kind of
disciplined thinking that will help them with whatever they endeavour to do.
People have just two choices when it comes to their emotions which is either they
can master their emotions or be mastered by them. Great leaders shouldn't let
their feelings prevent them from doing what they should or drive them to do
things they shouldn't. Thus, having a disciplined emotion plays a vital role in
guiding the leaders to make the proper choice. Furthermore, making disciplined
actions are also important instead of just sharpening your mind and controlling
your emotions. Action is what that separates the winners from the losers. A
leader’s actions always reflect his or her degree of discipline.

So in order for someone to become a great leader, all these traits and skills need
to be practiced and applied in everyday life. The fact still remains that this world
needs leaders and without their dreams of a better world and drive to succeed
we would not be where we are today. Being influential, prioritized, integrative, a
creator positive change, a problem solver, able to maintain good attitude, able to
work with people, being visionary, and self disciplined will bring out the leader
within a person, allowing them to become successful and touch people’s lives
and change the world.

From the discussion above, one can conclude that effectiveness of youth
leadership in nation building depends upon matching leadership behavior style
and how it will contribute to hold up their country. Statistics state that almost half
the world’s population is under the age of 25 – that’s three billion of young
people around the world. These numbers alone may help explain why youth is

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very significant to nation building as well as future management. Clearly, young
people have a critical role to play in leading initiatives and developing policies
when they make up such a significant part of the world’s population. They also
have the best understanding of the challenges, strengths and opportunities that
affect them. For this intention, a strong commitment and investment from
everyone including government, current leaders and organizations is needed to
develop and implement initiatives that address issues from youth perspective
and offer solutions that respond to the diverse realities of young people. When
they are meaningfully included in the design, implementation and evaluation of
youth-related programs, they will hold up the nation by developing a clear
mission and strategic plan for the benefits of all.

REFERENCES

1. http://www.scribd.com/doc/23138318/Role-and-Responsibility-of-Youth-in-
Building-Modern-India

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2. http://www.scribd.com/doc/17960884/How-Can-Young-People-Help-the-
Government-Be-More-Effective
3. http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my
4. Empowering youths for the future (Chapter 14) (2006). Ninth Malaysia Plan
(http://web2.utar.edu.my)
5. Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2006). Theories of personality (6th Ed.). New York:
McGraw-Hill.
6. Glokal Malay complements towering Malay. (2005, July 23.) BERNAMA,
(http://webevents.bemama.com/events/umn02005)
7. http://www.visionarylead.org/articles/vislead.htm

8. http://equipandempower.blogspot.com/2008/03/being-disciplined-
leader.html

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