Leadership has become a buzzword for employers seeking graduates and young professionals with the ability to motivate, manage and cooperate with their co-workers, as well as produce quality work independently.
The idea of Cambodian youth taking the initiative in their country’s development is a good one. However, the voices of the Kingdom’s young people are often given little consideration by their elders, causing them to doubt their abilities or feel like their efforts are futile.
While the number of students enrolling in universities and young professionals signing up for training courses is on the rise, it is difficult to get students to progress from simply following directions to taking on full responsibility for projects or missions.
Many students are unwilling or afraid to step up to the challenge of leadership positions early in their academic careers because they think they lack experience and confidence. But all students who enter university should be ready to be leaders.
“You need to activate your leadership skills even at an early age,” said Lim Piseth, a co-founder of Mega Mind – a student film team.
“Once you’ve discovered your leadership, you will start making an impact on society and once you see the impact you’ve made, you will realise how important your role in society can be. Having leaders is just a part of life.”
Building up your ability to work with others to generate innovative ideas and operable changes is a skill that cannot be underestimated in today’s job market.
Because many people over 25 are caught up with their jobs or are busy with marriage and raising a family, the years before are some of the best to try new things, start new projects and inspire others around you to join in implementing the change that you want to see.
You can start working on your leadership skills by doing small things. For instance, while in class, try to be the first person to raise your hand with an answer when your professor asks a question.
And be prepared for challenges. Leadership in Cambodia is often decided in arbitrary ways – by seniority or relations to power – rather than by merit.
But the country must continue to encourage new generations of true leaders if Cambodians are going to have a sense of purpose and direction.
One definition of leadership is being able to create a vision and mobilise people towards achieving that vision.
Theories of how leaders are formed abound. However, the only way that you will have the power to make change in Cambodia is if you start challenging yourself today – develop a vision for the future and work on attaining the skills and knowledge to turn this into a reality.