In the past few weeks my client’s offices in Germany have been reverberating to the sound of new energy; the yearly intake of school leavers and young students out on their first taste of work experience. However this year I met two young people that made me sit back and say “wow!”

The first student was the son of one of the senior managers who was assigned the task of studying an internal  social networking application and then to go out and visit a number of employees to find out why they were not using it and then to show them the benefits of the tool. 

This young man entered my office unannounced like he was walking on to a yacht, full of apparent confidence but still a little uncertain under foot.   Within five minutes he had me completely under his spell. Speaking with passion he guided me through the application, explaining the benefits of specific features and how they could enhance my visibility within the organization.  And just when I thought it was over he said, come on then let’s start using it for real and he persuaded me to build my own community right there and then.  The result – two weeks later and I am writing daily, one-liner mini-blogs, have initiated two communities and I am sharing my expertise within the business to people I previously had no contact with.

My second student was a young man called Moritz, he appeared in the middle of a rather intense section of a management training course I was giving.  He elected to sit at the back of the room, but I was not happy with that, so I pulled him up to the front, where he was introduced to the group.  The topic we were discussing was ‘what makes a good leader?’  

We were having the usual white board exchanges and already had a few contributions such as:  ‘Someone that covers my back’, ‘well informed’ etc. so when the group came to standstill I asked young Moritz (aged 14) what do you like to see in a leader? 

Speaking in fluent English (the course was being run in Germany) he said “I think confidence is important. When I am not sure of something it is nice to be able to turn to the leader”. I asked “and who is your leader?” (expecting, the head master or Gym coach etc.) He replied:  “My parents” and I said “ah yes but which one of them is the real boss?” “they both are” he said “come on now” I said, “no really”. He said “They both are, when  I ask for something, or when a decision needs to be taken, they always talk together first and then come back with one voice”.  The clarity of Moritz’s communication was wonderful, and because my white board was rather empty, I decided to help the group out (we were in that brain dead period, 40 minutes after lunch) by asking one more question “any other aspects of good leadership you would like to share with us this afternoon?”  “yes” he said “I like leaders that show an interest in me, in what I am doing and the results I am achieving, good or bad”.

Needless to say young Moritz, stayed with us for the whole session, joining in with group activities like he always belonged there.  And let’s get one thing straight, Moritz was not extravert or over confident, he just contributed when asked and felt comfortable within the environment he had been dropped into that afternoon.

If these two examples of fine young people are the voice of tomorrow, then I just hope that our further education systems and company intake processes, will not in any way take away the freshness of thought and clarity of their vision; their willingness to contribute and become a part of the adult world.  The very things that, sadly, are too often eroded over time!

Have a good week,