The True Meaning of Leadership – Taught by Our Children


Rasmus Hougaard
This article was originally published in
Click to view the original article

When young people across the globe went on Global Climate Strike they showed us that a new standard for leadership has emerged. It all started with one young girl displaying leadership way beyond her years.

In the early morning of March 15th 2019, while the rest of the world was asleep, children and students in New Zealand woke up, skipped school, and instead flocked together in more than 20 cities around the country to kick off the Global Climate Strike. As morning arose over Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, the same thing happened in more than 2000 cities across 123 countries. It’s estimated that millions of people under 20 years old took to the streets.

This is a historic event. Never before have children and young adults organized a global protest, and rarely has the world seen a protest of this scale and scope.

Today is a day that politicians and corporate leaders should note. Why? Because today a new standard for leadership has emerged.

The young girl who is now leading a global movement

It all started with a 16-year-old Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg. At the age of 9, she became depressed when she learned that we humans are destroying our planet, as we simultaneously post happy, celebratory pictures on social media. She sensed a collective condition of self-deception.

At 15, she decided to take the only action she felt available to a teenager. She went on strike from school, exclaiming that there’s no point in studying if we have no future. She created a small banner that read “School strike for the climate” and started a one-person protest in front of the Swedish parliament.

At first, she was ridiculed. But she persisted. She deeply understood that it was the only rational thing to do. After six months of standing outside in the Nordic weather, the media started to pay attention.

Greta is now considered by many to be an oracle. She’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and invited to present at multiple global forums, including giving a TED talk. While speaking to an assembled crowd of billionaires, heads of state, and celebrities at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in a matter-of-fact way, she said, “Adults keep saying we owe to the children to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act if as the house was on fire.”

At the United Nations Climate Summit, she asserted, “You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You’re not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden, you leave to us children. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Fearless, she speaks truth to power. We all know that we’re approaching the irreversible climate events that threaten to make earth uninhabitable. Thousands of scientists have documented the trends, the causes, and the likely outcomes – all beyond any reasonable doubt. Still, governments and companies fail to acknowledge this reality, let alone agree on or implement a solution.

The world needs leaders focusing on the greater good

Multiple dictionaries define leadership as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” Any sensible understanding of leadership should focus on the greater good, and especially on the greater good for the long term. In this light, the formal leaders of the world – governments, foundations, think tanks, and corporations – have failed. Miserably.

But today something changed.

Greta Thunberg has inspired a whole new generation of emerging leaders; young people all over the world who take responsibility, who organize themselves around caring for our one and only planet, and who advocate for the long-term greater good.

Today is a day for politicians and corporate leaders to take note. If they care about votes or customers, they must put climate change at the top of their agenda. Like Greta and the young people she’s inspired, they must begin to lead for the long-term greater good.

more insights

How to Thrive in the Attention Economy

Most of us are performing well below our potential in todays frenzied office life. The good news is that we can train our minds to regain a clear, calm and focused attention and fully utilize our potential for performance.

Powering Up Productivity with Mindfulness

We are facing a productivity crisis. Global economic indicators suggest that people in westernized countries are working more hours and getting less outcome. This should be of great concern to us as leaders as well as individuals. Who wants to work harder and get less done?

How To Lead For A Hard Future

It all starts with our minds. Wars aren’t started by weapons, but by minds filled with anger, prejudice, or hatred. In today’s changing world, we need leaders who can face challenges with selflessness and compassion.

The Real Crisis in Leadership

Leaders that fail to engage their people, toxic workplaces driving away talent, and failing leadership training. Organizations need to radically change how they develop leaders.

The Power of Putting People First

“If we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, and the customers will come back.” Here are four lessons on people-centered leadership from Marriott International.

Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

Leaders need to be in touch with their people to lead effectively but some of the perks that comes with senior positions can actually be alienating. So how do leaders stay connected?

Leadership Beyond the MBA Curriculum

Self-awareness is not part of the standard curriculum in most management education programs but if we want to create high-performing teams where people thrive, innovate and deliver great results; then it should be.

The Building Blocks for Engaging Leadership

Leaders who truly engage their people do so by enabling and empowering their people. They facilitate a supportive culture and help their people find purpose and meaning in their work. This in turn unlocks innovation and productivity.

Leadership Inside-Out

People-centered organizations are able to truly engage their people because they focus on internal drivers, such as meaningful engagement, connectedness, and feeling valued. This kind of culture starts with the leader. More specifically, it starts with the mind of the leader.

The Construct of Mindfulness

Have you ever watched a Cheetah, readying for a kill? That is Mindfulness in action! Mindfulness is a buzzword today being used loosely mean different things. While fundamentally, its been…


THE MIND OF THE LEADER   Einführung Teil 1 – Mindfulness Hunderte von Emails jeden Tag, ständig klingelt das Telefon, und ein Meeting jagt das andere: Angesichts einer unbarmherzigen Flut von…


Lernen Sie in einem kompakten 5-wöchigen Kurs unser Corporate-Based Mindfulness-Training (CBMT) kennen und verbessern Sie Fokus und Resilienz. WARUM SETZEN IMMER MEHR ORGANISATIONEN AUF „MINDFULNESS“? Steigende Arbeitsbelastung, Termindruck, ständig online…

Power Can Corrupt Leaders. Compassion Can Save Them

Taking on greater responsibilities and pressure can rewire our brains and, through no fault of our own, force us to stop caring about other people as much as we used to. But it does not have to be this way. Such rewiring can be avoided — and it can also be reversed.
Klare Ziele durch Achtsamkeit

Achtsamkeit am Arbeitsplatz – ganz konkret: ZIELE!

In dieser Artikelserie “Mindfulness am Arbeitsplatz – ganz konkret” widmen wir uns dieses Mal konkreten Tipps, wie Sie Achtsamkeit in Ihren Arbeitsalltag beim Thema „Ziele“ einbauen können. Lassen Sie sich…

Wohin wir unsere Aufmerksamkeit lenken

Audioanleitung Mindfulness-Training Probieren Sie Ihren Fokus mit dieser 10 min-Anleitung zu stärken. Testen Sie ihre Achtsamkeit! In Zusammenarbeit mit Havard Business Review (HBR) haben wir einen Kurztest entwickelt – Aufwand ca.…
All articles loaded
No more articles to load