Are we ready to lead?

Simamkele Dlakavu is a One Young World Coordinating Ambassador for South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. She co-founded Sakha Ulutsha Lwethu and is a television producer for one of South Africa’s leading current affairs shows.

The youth aren’t ready!

This accusation recently came from Nomveliso Viola Mbanga - a respected youth development practitioner in South Africa.

Mbanga highlighted an opportunity for six young South African youths to travel to Botswana for a fully funded training program. She personally invited twelve young people and they all excitedly accepted.

Only one followed through.

Is the older generation right?

We would do well to reflect on Mbanga’s comment and ask - Are we ready to lead?

As ‘young leaders’ we often say we are not given the opportunity to lead and we express frustration at not being given ‘a seat at the table’ by the older generation.

Whilst it is right to make ourselves heard, dissatisfaction must not blind us from our own flaws and flakiness.

When I co-founded Sakha Ulutsha Lwethu, I started with a team of 15. But as time progressed and the work load increased, numbers started dropping and it wasn’t long before I was delivering the programme alone.

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Sakha Ulutsha Lwethu aims to increase the number or rural and township youths aspiring, qualifying and accessing high education. Translated, Sakha Ulutsha Lwethu means ‘We are Building our Youth.’

But to do this, we need to collectively work harder, individually commit, take responsibility and be role models for change.

I am not perfect. I am guilty of not always following through – be it an email response, a meeting or delivering on time.

But we need to aim higher. We need to exceed expectations.

‘Young leaders start leading’

As One Young World Ambassadors, we are taught that our age is no barrier and we need not wait to lead.

But ask yourself, do my everyday actions prove I am ready to lead?

Are we working as hard as we can to create the impact we want? What happens when we are given the platform to lead, will we be dedicated and rise to the responsibility?

Yes, life is a learning process. But being ‘at the table’ requires continuous commitment.

As young leaders, we must remember:

Exceptional leaders walk their talk.