literature review on youth leadership sample

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  • 1.The Facilitation of Professional Leadership Development in aYouth Organizations: A Case Study of Victoria Universitys Students Association (VUWSA).IntroductionMost of the leadership development1 literature and practice have been conducted inthe area of professional work settings, but very few studies have been carried out inyouth organizations (Bowen & Shapiro, 1998; Wagner, 2006) such as studentsassociations. Various authors believed that the skills for effective leadership arelearnt from experience rather than formal training programmes (McCall et al, 1988).Therefore, the professional development of leadership in youth organizations is quitea new concept.So how can VUWSA2 implement professional leadership development among theirstaff? What are the requirements to adapt professional leadership development toyouth organizations?This literature review will investigate various issues regarding the development ofleadership in youth organizations based on the relevant literature. Leadership learningprogrammes are argued to be a key to unlocking the myth of developing leadership(Kouzes and Posner, 1995). As a result of students reflecting upon experiences asleadership development opportunities, they are able to more fully develop theirunderstanding and practice of leadership (Boatman, 1999; Densten & Gray, 2001).The nature of youth organizations and the reasons why it is difficult to developleadership in young people will also be discussed.This paper will argue that professional leadership development can be learnt anddeveloped in youth organizations. As leadership is seen as a key ingredient for future1 Explores the systemic which leaders and followers operate and seeks to intervene to enhanceeffectiveness focuses on the intervention to develop interpersonal skills.2VUWSA is the official representative body for students studying at Victoria University. We haveover 18,500 members and work on the principle that the best people to represent the interests ofstudents are students themselves1

2. success, it is proposed that VUWSA must focus on their staff members leadershipskills and not base their choice purely on technical expertise (Earley, 2000).LeadershipLeadership is ill-define concept. There are thousands of meaning on leadership.According to research in practice (2006) a traditional view of leaders is aboutindividualistic. The individual should have vision to drive people to achieve a specificgoal. The contemporary meaning of leadership is about collective mind, drawingpeople together and achieving goals with the same desire. Leadership meaning is notstatic concept and for youth leadership, the concept is different. We do not see youthas a leader yet rather as a future leader (MacNeil, 2006). Therefore the developmentof youth leadership is needed in our society.Learning Leadership:Although many scholars might argue that leaders are born and not made, learningleadership is not an impossible concept. The focus on training leadership is beingshifted away, because there has been relatively little research on its effectiveness(Kress, 2006), and being replaced by development and education3.Weielkiewiez (2000) admits that volunteering for service organization is associatedwith system thinking skills, which are critical for leadership effectiveness. Astin(1985) suggests that getting involved in the Universitys activities has positiveimpacts on leadership development. In addition, Ulrich et al (1999) does not focusentirely on the learning aspect of the development of leadership, but also discuss theimportance of consideration of how behaviour needs to change if people are tobecome more effective leaders.Thus, the development of leadership tries to implement leadership practice into youthorganizations so that they can learn and develop by making sense of self through theirown experiences. Therefore, a key development issue appears to be helping people tolearn how to learn from experience (Kress, 2006).3 An emphasis oriented towards conscious awareness of social patterns that produces insight intoknowledge, ideals, insights and experiences that shape individual and group beliefs and values, toenable collective integration into collective goals (Barker, 1997). 2 3. Experiences from interacting with the other people within the organization will allowindividuals to recognise themselves and their identities in the context of othersexpectations (Ashforth and Kreiner, 1999). These experiences also enable people tomake sense and distinguish the quality of the informal experiences happening in theireveryday activities, this appears to be a critical means to individual leadershipdevelopment (Hartley et al., 2003).However, Chan Kim and Mauborgne (2003) state that leadership development inmany organizations is based on a position where the manager is seen as a leader,because the employees have to commit to a managers decision. Power distance isthus vital in the development of leadership, because the power distance creates theenvironment in which such leadership cannot thrive (Bowerman, 2003). They saythey are concerned about developing leaders, when in reality they feel more securewith managers. The art of leadership development is still in its infancy (Conger,1996: 57).The task of developing youth leaders is a matter of creating environments that willnurture capacities for leadership and helping youth to let go of the self-interest thatgets in the way in organizations and to show them how to respond to presentorganizational needs.Nature of Youth OrganizationsMany youth organizations have implemented leadership development through fieldtrips or conferences. However, leadership development is not an event, but should bean integrated process within an organization therefore organizational supportnetworks are needed to reinforce leadership development (Conger and Benjamin,1999). VUWSA leadership development is not happening in VUWSA because theinteraction between the member and followers (students) does not happen.In addition, a difficulty that youth organizations face is their short leadership cycles asshort leadership development processes are ineffective (Alimo-Metcalfe and Lawler,2001). Short leadership cycles result in the loss of organizational goal and direction.The continuous change in leadership in youth organizations such as VUWSA on an 3 4. annual basis constrains the development of leadership, because teamwork ability, theirunderstanding of the roles, and a sense of doing meaningful things within theorganization are unlikely to occur (Kress, 2006).As a result of this time constraint many of the youth organizations unintentionallydevelop leadership in a traditional way. They concentrate on individual rather thanmodern trends in leadership theory, that being the movement away from the conceptof leadership residing in one person towards a concept of leadership residing in therelationship between and among individuals (Astin & Leland, 1991). There is notenough time to gain any advantage experience which has a direct negative effect onyouth leadership in the future.Without advantage experience, a young leader can easily be under pressure by thetasks that are given or the followers, resulting in the discouragement to the otheryouth that want to be leaders one day. The development of leadership in youthorganizations needs a professional leadership development approach on issues ofdecision-making power and influence (MacNeil, 2006) because youth often fail to seethemselves as actors in decision-making processes (Kress, 2006).The understanding of leadership within the organization is quite underdeveloped andthere exist different views about leadership (Alimo-Metcalfe and Lawler, 2001). Forexample, VUWSA only refer to leadership with regard to the position of thePresident of the organization. This reflects a lack of understanding that leadershiptakes place at all levels in the organization especially with students association,because each of the members represents students in different issues. Cohen and Tichy(1997) and Senga (1992) state that work in the learning organization suggests leadersare needed at all levels.What Goes Wrong With Youth Leadership Development?The American researchers Confer (1993) and Fulmer (1997) show that leadershipdevelopment in non-profit organization and youth organization is illogical anddisorganized, possibly because all people perceive leadership differently (McKibben,2004). The notion of leadership development is then found to be problematic whenapplied to different organizations (Pittaway, Rivera & Murphy, 2005).4 5. The concept of leadership is largely drawn on much of the literature, both popular andscholarly, and it is focussed heavily on adult leadership development and practice.There is little research regarding youth leadership development. Bass (1981), wellknown for his views on leadership, failed to mention youth leadership or thedevelopment of youth leadership. Thus the notion of adult leadership4 and the youthleadership5 in literature are quite different.The American study (Davis, 1997) refers to youth leadership as having a futureorientation. Youth are not leaders but have the potential to develop leadership skillsthat will be necessary to be effective leaders in future. Most of the leadershipdevelopment programme is then designed to develop the competencies considered tobe important in leaders (Kress, 2006). This is believed to derive from trait theorygreat man or implicit theory of leadership where it assumes that certain behavioursare required for leadership. This means that certain people are born with a set of keypersonality characteristics which make them natural leaders (Research in practice,2006). If this is true the development of leadership is not a possible concept.This calls for attention to leadership development in young people, to rethink youthleadership development as something beneficial to society as a whole (Olsen et al.,2004) and


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