Today’s participants, tomorrow’s leaders

When you picture your future, what do you see?

“Are you a leader or a follower?” – the question written in my “Q&A a day” journal in which I wrote, “I think I’m a good mix of both, but I’d like to become even more of a leader.” –Alexis Engelhart, Research Assistant

Education is powerful. When living in a society with low income and low literacy rates, some find it challenging to receive a good education. No matter the challenges and obstacles they face, youth continually rise up and break from their societal poverty-stricken paths to educate themselves and lead the next generation. 

We, 4 Youth By Youth, challenge you to be a great leader.

In the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman provides several tips as he answers the question “What Makes a Leader?” His answer is backed with emotional intelligence. The five elements of emotional intelligence that make a leader are 1) self-awareness, 2) self-regulation, 3) motivation, 4) empathy, and 5) social skill. Though Mr. Goldman says IQ and technical skills are necessary, they are not the identifiers of a great leader. Emotional intelligence includes the skills that cannot be taught throughout job orientation but rather is developed with age, maturity, and through persistence and proper self-training. 

Through our different life experiences and lessons we learn, we can change the way we act, speak, and think and become more humble towards the progression of our emotional intelligence. To dive deeper into the five components of emotional intelligence, visit Daniel Goleman’s article:

You ask: so how can we, youth, learn to become great leaders?

You can invest your time in yourself. Start with a vision. Be confident. Learn to understand who you are as an individual and why you are placed at this specific moment in time in your exact location. Stay true to yourself so you can recognize your feelings and discover your passions. Be honest and loyal. Resist judgment. Be willing to open your mind and heart. Be comfortable with change. Find a desire to strive towards fulfillment and purpose. Stay committed to your work, and learn from your failure. Empower and motivate. Practice and promote cultural humility. Assist those in need. Build rapport. Advocate for improvement. Be strong and committed to your word. But first, invest time in yourself. 

Once you invest time in yourself, you will become a great leader. Then you can invest your time in those you lead.

How might we, 4 Youth By Youth, support youth to be leaders in research?

To better understand youth participation, the ‘three-lens approach’ offers three different ways in which youth can be involved in projects, organizations, or communities:

(1) seeing and working with youth as beneficiaries;

(2) collaborating and engaging with youth as partners;

(3) supporting youth as initiators and leaders.

4 Youth By Youth aims to promote a shift in thinking about the participation of youth as merely beneficiaries in one-off projects/programs to more sustained and youth-led processes! We invest time in young people, supply adequate training and participatory events to build youths’ knowledge and skills, and encourage youth to lead. Instead of youth as the problem, we see youth as the future, as the crucial piece to their own success.  

According to the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in 2019, 16%, or 1.2 billion of the global population was youth aged 15 to 24-years-old. In 2065, the number of youth worldwide is expected to reach 1.4 billion. In that same manner, the youth population in the poorest countries is estimated to increase from 207 million in 2019 to 336 million in 2050. Youth are the potential and voice today for the change in the future. 

We fight to give Nigerian youth the opportunity to develop and achieve monumental goals so they can fight for each other, their neighbors, and those living in the same conditions they grew up in. We encourage youth to advance in ownership, implementation, and sustainable development to create lasting interventions. With youth leaders and implementers, social, economic, political, and human right vulnerabilities can be reduced and in turn improve global health.

How can we, everyone else, learn from youth?

Youth have the opportunity to define today’s world. Not only are (You)th our future, they are our NOW! They have the ideas, motivation, and capacity to amend today and define tomorrow. We need to help guide, support, and listen to our youth. Our youth are problem solvers. They have boundless creativity and energy to put forth. They are full of hope and desire nothing less than a prosperous future. We can watch our youth, Nigerian youth, lead and foster their own solutions to change their stories and change the world. 


Goleman, D. (2004, January). What Makes a Leader? [PDF file]. Harvard Business Review.

Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2019). International Youth Day, 12 August 2019 [PDF file].

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