Looking for the next generation of thought leaders

There has been a lot of doom and gloom reported recently around the education system in the UK. But I wanted to take a minute or two consider the importance of our next generation. After all, these young people are going to be our new leaders, the next people to look up to!
As a business advisor for Young Enterprise, I have spoken at several schools with the purpose of stimulating young people to build successful careers after they have finished school. I have a strong commitment to education and I believe that it is important to look after our next generation of thought leaders.
But who are these young people looking up to? Celebrities? Personally I don’t believe that these are the right people to be in a position of influence.
A celebrity, in most cases, is not a thought leader bar a few exceptions. Celebrity status is valued too highly in our society and now the increased proximity and intimacy gives many people the illusion that they too can become a celebrity. As a result, celebrity culture has become the aspiration, instead of solid business and entrepreneurship.
Of course the exceptions to the rule are the celebrities who are visible and vocal, and saying important things. For example, new Dragon, Hilary Devey and her colleagues on the show. Also, Richard Branson, Dame Anita Roddick and even Apple icon Steve Jobs.
These people have become known for something other than their wealth, looks or peer group.  They are known for their ideas and influence, and for building tribes of loyal fans and followers.
All of these people have one thing in common: Innovation. In the world of thought leadership, copy-cats are not welcome and the same thing applies to business. We live in a very competitive market place and a more competitive world, so allowing yourself to be unique is the best thing you can do. In turn this will allow you to influence others successfully – if you want to be a REAL thought leader you will need to be able to influence people.
So coming back to our younger generation of thought leaders, my advice would be to think of who it is that influences them and why. Then, try and use some of those tips and turn them into your own thought leadership qualities.
Who will step forward and lead the way? We need a new batch of real thought leaders, people who can take our society to the next phase of it’s evolution and bring the kind of transformation that is so sorely needed.