Transformational Leadership vs Transactional Leadership

Transformational or transactional leadership? Is one better than the other?

The concept of transformational leadership was initially introduced by leadership expert and presidential biographer James MacGregor Burns. According to Burns, transformational leadership can be seen when “leaders and followers make each other to advance to a higher level of moral and motivation.”

Transactional and transformational are the two modes of leadership that tend to be compared the most.

James MacGregor Burns distinguished between transactional leaders and transformational by explaining that:

  • Transactional leader are leaders who exchange tangible rewards for the work and loyalty of followers.
  • Transformational leaders are leaders who engage with followers, focus on higher order intrinsic needs, and raise consciousness about the significance of specific outcomes and new ways in which those outcomes might be achieved.

Here’s a great breakdown chart of transactional vs transformational leadership.

Transactional VS. Transformational
Leadership is responsive Leadership is proactive
Works within the organizational culture Works to change the organizational culture by implementing new ideas
Employees achieve objectives through rewards and punishments set by leader Employees achieve objectives through higher ideals and moral values
Motivates followers by appealing to their own self-interest 
Motivates followers by encouraging them to put group interests first
Management-by-exception: maintain the status quo; stress correct actions to improve performance.
Individualized consideration: Each behaviour is directed to each individual to express consideration and support.
Intellectual stimulation: Promote creative and innovative ideas to solve problems.

However, there has been recent arguments that transformationa lleadership may be more effective in a long-term setting.

“Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders,” explained psychologist and leadership expert Ronald E. Riggio. The reason, he suggests, is that transformational leaders believe that their followers can do their best, leading members of the group to feel inspired and empowered.

Where transactional leadership works

Rules, procedures and standards are essential in transactional leadership. Followers are not encouraged to be creative or to find new solutions to problems. Research has found that transactional leadership tends to be most effective in situations where problems are simple and clearly-defined.

While transactional leadership can be effective in some situations, it is generally considered an insufficient and may prevent both leaders and followers from achieving their full potential.

How transformational leadership works:

In their classic text, Transformational Leadership , authors Bass and Riggio explained:

“Transformational leaders…are those who stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity. Transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs by empowering them and by aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization.”

We’ve worked together with Juan-Carlos Pastor, PhD, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at IE Business School, to develop an app on Facebook that helps you determine whether you have a more transactional or transformational leadership style.

Curious which leadership style you are? Click here and find out!

 

 

How Going Abroad Taught Me About Life – Everyday Leadership

Contributed by Janet Ong

Here are the stories from my exchange experience that surprised me in the end. This is my experience with AIESEC NCTU in Hsinchu City, Taiwan as part of the the project Connect the World from September to December 2013.

This cultural exchange program was designed for us exchange participants to make an impact on high school students by sharing things about and from our countries.

Surprisingly, this exchange program taught me a lot about life. I was approached by one of the teachers in one of the high schools I was teaching at. The teacher knew I intended to go to law school because of how I had introduced myself in her class. She wanted to ask me for more details on law school because she was very worried about her daughter, who was on the verge of giving up law school.

I told her that I wanted to specialize in criminal law and in the field of human rights because I wanted to be a court lawyer and be of service to people. She asked me how I already knew which specific field in law I wanted to pursue this early on. I simply told her that I always remind myself of why I wanted to be in this field to begin with. I remind myself that I am doing this not only for the sake of my career but also for the sake of the people who are in need of help and that I think being a court lawyer best fits this interest.

The exchange program is more than the learning you get from the four corners of the classroom, it is the learning from an experience in life.

She asked me this question so that she could help her daughter who was about to graduate but was attempting to give up. Surprisingly, she really wanted advice from me. I told her to tell her daughter to remind herself why she chose law and to remind herself of the positive things that happened in law school despite the difficulty she was currently having. The teacher said that her daughter was worried about the bar exam. In response, I told her that everyone was scared of the bar exam and even I was afraid of it. I told her that working hard for a dream would achieve good results.

What was the surprise here? After saying those things to the teacher, I  saw myself as the daughter who was worried about law school. Then I reflected on those words I said to the teacher. It made me realize that I can manage as long as I believe in myself. Friends and even former professors have been telling me that I can manage, that I have good academic standing and a keen interest in the classes in my undergraduate course in psychology. I get positive feedback from my classes. What is there to be afraid of? I am afraid of failing, but who isn’t? I am afraid of falling, but who isn’t? Everyone is. It is a matter of facing your fears.

Everyone thinks, I lack the courage to face them; I do not believe in myself; I do not trust myself. If I believed in myself, I would have the capacity to say I can do it. Then I realized, am I not like her daughter too? Afraid? I gave advice that the teacher appreciated and believed that it would be of help to her daughter. I realized, I can do it. I can pursue my dreams despite the struggles; believe despite the hardships.

I got letters and messages from my students, teachers and friends telling me I am a funny and jolly person. They said I have this motivation and energy that influences other people. It has always been a surprise for me to see in the letters or even hear this feedback because I do not see myself like that. I believe that I gained more confidence and courage from this project than anyone could ever imagine. I remember the poster/ad of AIESEC DLSU saying, “Get lost and find yourself”. I am indeed discovering a lot about myself from feedback from other people.

I realized now that we need other people who are courageous enough to tell us about ourselves. Feedback from other people no matter how minor can help us realize what is really happening in our lives. This is why I have to say that I am very glad that I met the people I did, experienced the things I experienced. If not for those, I would not have found myself. I would not have discovered something more about myself. I would not have been the way I am right now. I may have had a tough rocky road along the way but everyone does, right?

I believe that things happen for a reason. Now, I believe that these things had to happen to open my eyes and see the reality. I am grateful for the good and bad. If not for the bad, how could I have appreciated the good so much? Right now, I just do not know the right words to express how much AIESEC, my fellow trainees, teachers, students and friends have helped shape my life for the better. It is quite sad for me to leave because this is the place where I learned a lot, not about academics, but about life itself. It is a place where I found good friends. However, I have to say goodbye, face the things that I have to face back home and continue on with my life. People come and go in our lives but it does not mean that they will be gone from our lives. The people I met will always be treasured dearly. Everyone may be far away from one another but distance is not a barrier to maintain the friendships that we have created.

The world has still a lot to offer. The world still has a lot of surprises. There is still a lot more to learn from. Just smile at the world, and it will surely smile back at you. But this experience is one of the best I have ever had. This is my second home—Taiwan. This has been my Wonderland.

I am happy that I was here. I am happy that I was able to convince students who did not participate to participate. I was able to convince students who did not smile, to smile. I was able to see how keen and eager the students were whenever I was presenting. I am happy that I was able to see how the students’ eyes brightened. I am happy that I was able to see and hear the students laugh, joke and even be loud for a good cause. These were the actual experiences I had with my last class: the most difficult but the best class I ever had.

My last class was supposed to be the most unresponsive and I was told that the class does not really answer questions. However, it was different when I was there. They were welcoming and happy. My last class is where I can say I was really able to Connect the World and fulfill the goals of the project. This was the class where I can say that I really was able to make a difference. These are irreplaceable moments in my life that can make me say and realize that, “Hey! I did make a change”. It may have just lasted for a day, an hour, a minute or even just a second, but the little things showed me that one person could really make a big difference.

This is the teaching experience.
This is the experience of life.
This is the AIESEC experience.
Thank you very much.

After the exchange experience, where am I now? I had the courage to take up law school and continue my AIESEC journey. I am currently a first year student of law and a member of the Finance and Legal Affairs Department of AIESEC DLSU. What am I grateful for? I am grateful that AIESEC shaped my life and happy that I was able to contribute to AIESEC’s vision of “Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind’s potential”

Here’s a tribute for my AIESEC experience:

“The exchange program is more than the learning you get from the four corners of the classroom, it is a life experience. It is about finding who you are and learning more about yourself throughout the journey. I began to open up locked chests that I didn’t know existed within me. Moreover, I’ve realized how life is so wonderful and it never fails to give you those little things that make you smile.
It’s also about never giving up and never losing hope.

It was also in this exchange program that I found what I am passionate and dedicated about — and AIESEC is one of those things. AIESEC taught me how to stand up for myself and be a leader — a leader who will be able to make a wonderful and positive impact in my country and also in the world.

Lastly, it is indeed an honor and a privilege to be part of AIESEC. I will forever and always be thankful for AIESEC.”

“This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

Turn to the Leader in the Mirror

“This moment in history demands that we stop waiting on others to solve the problems and right the wrongs of our times.”

At 66th AIESEC International Congress 2014 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Arianna Huffington addressed more than 700 young leaders from 124 countries and territories.

In her message to young people, she addressed the concept of “leading the change,” focused on empowering young people to create the change they wish to see in the world. Connected with the leadership development that AIESEC provides to young people, Arianna Huffington advises youth to tap into their creativity, leadership and wisdom – “Because wherever we look around the world, we see smart leaders in politics, in business, in media, making terrible decisions. What they are lacking is not IQ, but wisdom.”

Some of the most important issues today including diversity, climate change, education and the impact of technology require not just talk, but action. Arianna says:

“…don’t wait for leaders on a white horse to save us. Instead, turn to the leader in the mirror. Tap into your own leadership potential, because the world desperately needs you. And that means daring to take risks and to fail, as many times as it takes along the way to success and more important, to remaking the world and leading the change.”

How can we ensure that we are leading the change?

The Race to Improving the World Beyond 2015

Did you know there are only 500 days left until the end of the Millennium Development Goals?

As 2015 is slowly approaching, the world is closely watching to witness the accomplishments of the 8 MDGs, set by the United Nations back in the year 2000.

So where are we now? How much did we achieve?

“The world has reduced extreme poverty by half, efforts in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis have shown results, access to an improved drinking water source became a reality for 2.3 billion people”, etc. says The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at the goals and progress reports from this video:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, but 1 in 5 still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day in developing countries. And although the world has reduced extreme poverty in half, 842 million people around the world still suffer from chronic hunger.

2. Achieve universal primary education – The number of children with no access to primary school education decreased from 102 million in 2000 to 58 million in 2012. While the amount has significantly decreased, the number of out-of-school children is still alarming.

3. Reduce child mortalityUnder-5 mortality rate was reduced almost by 50%, but a lot more needs to be achieved if we want to achieve 2/3 reduction.

4. Improve maternal health – Maternal mortality ratio is down 45% since 1990. However, every day about 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

5. Ensure environmental sustainability – Since 2012, 2.3 billion more have access to improved drinking water, but 748 million still use water from an unimproved source.

For more statistics, take a look at:

 

While we ought to celebrate our achievements and recognize the progress we’ve made, we shouldn’t forget how far the world is from where we want it to be. Working on these issues is not priority only now or only until 2015, but every day.

How can we contribute to this?

On August 19th 2014, 700 young people from 124 countries and territories gathered at the Global Youth to Business Forum, an event bringing together top young leaders and experts, business and thought leaders, with the aim of generating new, actionable ideas that will impact the world and its future.

Y2B

They spent the whole day discussing the topics ranging from Diversity and Inclusion, Technology and Innovation to Climate Change, Sustainability and Changing Education. Together, they have come up with action steps that could help improve each of those areas and move the world forward. Stay tuned for our report to find out about the solutions youth and business co-created together!

Don’t forget that we have only 500 days left until MDGs. At the same time, let’s not forget that impact is a daily responsibility. This is why AIESEC offers volunteer internships that help tackle social topics such as cultural understanding, education and literacy, social entrepreneurship, environment, health and lifestyle and many others. For more information, please visit: http://globalcitizen.aiesec.org

This is how we contribute to making an impact every day and helping move this world forward. Share with us:

How will you contribute to bringing the world closer to the vision of 2015? 

 

Dancing our way to world peace

Martha Graham once said “Dance is the hidden language of the soul”. Agnes de Mille’s words were “The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music…”  And Hans Bos said “When I dance, I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole, that is why I dance.” During a dance, joy and happiness bring up the best in people and differences are for a moment forgotten or embraced and cherished.

If you are not a part of AIESEC, but have met someone who is, you’ve probably wondered – So why do AIESECers dance? Why do they jump up at the sound of certain songs and start dancing enthusiastically, while you are in a complete shock as to what just happened?

At the beginning of every local, national and international conference we have the tradition of presenting each entity present and their culture by dancing roll calls. As decades go by, the tradition continues and AIESEC entities present their culture through different dances.

Imagine young people from over 124 countries and territories in one room, showcasing their culture and doing roll call by dancing, laughing and cheering for each other.  The barriers and borders disappear, bringing the world together at one place. Diversity, richness of cultures, the splash of colors and positive energy make the room come alive and connect people of fundamentally different backgrounds.

 

The beauty is not just in the moment, but in the fact that when the music stops and you hear the song again someplace else, you are reminded of the entity which danced it, of their colors, faces, smiles and culture.

AIESEC is unique precisely because it creates a global family of young people, who take time to get to know each other and learn each other’s dances, thus expressing respect and open-mindedness towards different cultures.

When was the last time you saw the world at one place?

We did today and that’s why we are passionate about cultural understanding and intercultural dialogue.

 If you believe cultural understanding is crucial in today’s globalized world, share in a comment your idea of how we can facilitate it!

dancing

 

The Time We Brought About World Peace – Everyday Leadership

Contributed by Anum Malik

In a world where polarized views engulf so many hearts and the bad guys seem to get their way, what is the beacon of hope? As innocent people suffer all around the globe, you feel overwhelmed with a sense of frustrating and livid defeat.

You’re distraught and you wonder how these current ‘leaders’ can let the world burn like this. People are yelling at each other and so quick to blame. Hate propaganda is on the rise, fueling the anger of people around the earth. In such large-scale conflicts with roots so deep, you wonder how you, as one single individual, can fit anywhere in this warring world and bring some peace.

I’m going to tell you about how you can take out hate. How you can disarm evil, and overrun armies of intolerance. I’m going to tell you about the time we took out hate, disarmed evil, and brought about world peace…and how you can too.

Engaging in combat against hate is arguably one of the toughest battles of mankind. It’s about changing people’s hearts. Don’t underestimate the role of the masses, the role of everyday leaders, the role of yourself. Your army is the power of your voice, armed with your experience. You must take out hate with peace.

Thanks to AIESEC, tens of thousands of people had a life changing experience in a new land and then came home and without realizing, became an honest spokesperson for that foreign land to their own people.

An AIESEC exchange transforms you into not just an ambassador, but also a strategic asset. An asset equipped with knowledge and a voice. Using your experience, you attack with empathy, love, and ideas. That’s how you disarm evil. You lead the mission to cure hate with tolerance. That’s a leader.

I always struggled to understand what exactly was going on in the Middle East. It was a mystical land of rich history, but all I read and all I saw was fighting, conflict and violence. Last year in the summer of 2013, while interning in Egypt, I found myself caught right in the midst of the turmoil. However, rather than confirming any of the stereotypes aforementioned, something quite extraordinary happened to me.

The AIESECers in Egypt were dedicated to not just protecting me, but showing me another aspect of the situation. The Egyptians I encountered were eager to demonstrate that they did not represent the stories that were portrayed around the world about the violent nature of the Egyptian people. They longed for me to understand that they were civilians, not supporting any violence or destruction that came out of the political uprisings. They just wanted peace. I, along with many other interns, took a risk by going to Egypt so we could interact with the people for ourselves. We dared to allow our minds to be free from what we thought we knew.

Egyptian AIESECers and interns. Photo taken at Mokattam, a mountain overlooking the city of Cairo.

But why stop there?

We all eventually left Egypt, but our role in this battle wasn’t over. The Egyptians provided me with an unparalleled and eye opening experience during a challenging time in their country, and it was my duty to report what I saw. Interns of all different countries who found themselves in this unexpected situation in Cairo returned home and word spread like fire about what we had seen. I reached out to all the media outlets I could, trying to find anyone who would listen. My own university heard my call and invited me to speak at a panel. I was a storyteller, using my words to combat notions about the Egyptian people on every occasion I could. It wasn’t about if I supported or didn’t support the counterrevolution. I wasn’t a spokesperson for the political wing of Egypt. I was the spokesperson for the average peaceful Egyptian and their culture. That’s who I supported.

However, as an AIESECer, it was not sufficient to just speak for Egypt in America. It was my responsibility to show the Middle East that I was an American, and that I too didn’t fit their stereotype.

I went back to the Middle East and joined AIESEC Jordan. AIESEC constantly reminded me that I was a leader, and made me realize that I was fully capable to take on a project of my own. I partnered with a Syrian organization in Jordan and together, weaving in both values in from the east and west, we synergized and created a program for refugee children.

As AIESECers, we were left speechless abroad, and then we became storytellers. We were basking in the comfort of our own lands, and then we became global citizens. We were left thinking we had no way to affect the world’s state of despair, and then we became everyday leaders.

So, how did I bring about world peace? Well, it was one of the best moments of my life, and it occurred in the subtlest of ways. It was a sugar cube I received at an AIESEC conference a few months after I returned from Egypt. It was a small note, but the words were so powerful, proving to me that what I was doing, what we all were doing, was working. I was just a girl telling a story. But next thing I knew, I had taken out hate and brought around world peace.

The sugar cube reads: “Anum, you gave me hope for the future of Arab-American Relations. Never stop telling your stories.”

You have the power to take out hate. If each of us adds up our little attempts towards peace such as this, together we might just attain world peace. Go out, explore and allow your way of thinking to be challenged. It’s time to take a risk, sweetheart.

How will you make a difference by starting with listening?

Get involved with AIESEC today and embark on a global internship experience.

“This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

How One Person Can Change Your Life – Everyday Leadership

 

Written by Ivana Gusic, Head of Public Relations and Marketing at AIESEC in Austria

Did it ever happen to you that one person changed your life?
Did you ever have a wow day without expecting it at all?

I want to tell you a story, which took place almost half a year ago. In March 2014, on the Serbian National Conference, president of AIESEC in Serbia at the time — Aleksa Nikolic held a speech. It was his last speech as the president, since he was leaving very soon to a new position in AIESEC International. For those who don’t know, AIESEC changes its leadership body completely every year to provide opportunity for life-changing experiences to more people.

Anyway, Aleksa grew during the year he was a president, developed a lot personally and professionally and changed the organization. That day, he shared stories with us, laughed, appreciated his team and played one video. I don’t remember exactly the story that led to him playing the video. Our memory is tricky and we remember flashes, feelings and images.

But he played this video.

Have you seen it? If not, take a minute now to see it and then continue reading; you won’t regret it.

Maybe the message of the poem is not something you haven’t heard before or maybe it is. Maybe you heard a completely different message than I did that day. That’s the beauty of poems. Each person finds something in it for himself or herself.

Carpe diem. Live as if you’ll die today. Live every single day to the fullest because time flies. Live for something. Live in peace.

Maybe you see messages as the same or carrying similar meaning. Maybe they’ve lost meaning to you because you’ve heard them so many times.

But sometimes by changing the package, you get to see the same thing in a completely different light. This is what happened to me that day.

“Let now be our advent
Let us live like we meant it
Let us burn like we mean it
Because this world doesn’t give a shit if we end in a train wreck or a car crash
If our story ends with a dot or dash
If we were dust or ash
Because all we were is all we’ll be
And all we are is the in-between of so far, so good
So forget every would, could, or should not
Forget remembering how we forgot
Live like a plot twist exist now and in memory
Because we burn bright Our lights leave SCARS on the sun
Let no one say we will be undone by times passing
The memories we are amassing will stand as testament
That somehow we bent minds behind the concept
That we see others within ourselves
That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves
So who we are has no bearing on how we appear
Look directly in every mirror
Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story.
And our story starts; we were here”

We always consider leadership and changing the world as a massive undertaking. But sometimes it’s about changing one life.

That day, with a simple message, Aleksa changed mine. But there were more than 200 people in that room. Maybe he changed a couple more without even realising.

That is everyday leadership.

Sometimes small changes produce big echoes.

So think of things that inspire you and think about giving back and sharing with others selflessly. Because we live in such a world today where it’s easy to become self-centered and easy to forget whom else we are in this world with.

And you never know whom you can inspire by accident. So lets teach each other and inspire each other. Because leadership is about people. And this world is about people.

How many lives you think you changed without even realising it?

Maybe that is how you contributed to building a more peaceful world.

AIESEC Everyday Leader Series — Everyday Leaders Changing the World. Submit Your Story!

World Peace may just be attainable.

AIESEC Everyday Leader Series — Everyday Leaders Changing the World.

AIESEC Everyday Leader series highlights powerful stories and lessons from thought and everyday leaders from around the world. The stories illustrate on how World Peace may just be attainable through the actions of everyday leaders who are working towards the peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.

Read the first of the series

Examples of Everyday Leader Stories

How can you participate and contribute your inspiring story for Everyday Leadership?

1. Write an article on Medium.com

2. Include at least one high-quality photo and refine for grammar and spelling

3. Publish and submit your best stories to gordonc@ai.aiesec.org

4. Share it on social media and tag us @AIESEC

Guidelines

  • We will review your story, and contact you for re-publication on our global blog and global social media channels.
  • Stories will be pre-approved before publication, and are subject to editorial modifications to align with the central theme.
  • Not all stories will be accepted for global showcasing, but we encourage you to share your own story with those around you.

An average post on Global AIESEC Facebook for example can attract upwards of 100,000+ users organically. Follow us also on Twitter and LinkedIn

Must-do’s to be qualified

  • One or more clear high-quality impactful photo (we encourage videos too).
  • Clear illustrations about the experience and story free of grammar and spelling errors
  • Include the “date, where, when and how you did it”
  • Craft a compelling story line that showcases what challenges you overcame had to overcome and how you made a difference through the experience
  • Connected to how everyday leaders can change the world and its connection to AIESEC’s mission of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.
  • Has a blurb at the end of the article written: “This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

How Young People Contribute to Changing The World Everyday

Written by Ivana Gusic, Head of Public Relations and Marketing at AIESEC in Austria

This is not a story about current conflicts that are happening in the world. It is not about rockets flying over our skies or ending wars. It is about smaller things. Little things. But the kind of little things that keep a person going forward; that bring the spark into everyday and strengthen the belief that this world is worth fighting for.

In a small town in Hungary named Gyor, 50 young people from AIESEC in Austria attended a conference to plan for the upcoming year and cover numerous topics relevant for the executive bodies gathered there. This conference itself is special because it brings together young people from 6 different countries: Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Serbia and Brazil. But that is another story altogether.

AIESEC Conference in Serbia

AIESEC Central European Congress gathering young people from Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Austria.

The moment that matters happened towards the end of the conference.

I was holding a session — last session of the day about external exposure (since I am Head of PR and Marketing). I was very skeptical of how it would go because everyone was tired from the six-day conference, which was almost over.

There was a part of the session that I completely forgot about; this small task which turned out to be the spark of greatness. I remember I almost skipped it. You never know what is going to be the biggest moment of the day. Usually the moments you believe will be insignificant turn out to be big ones.

The task was to “Discuss in pairs the topics that we, as voice of youth in Austria, could write about; topics that AIESEC is really passionate about; topics that may seem ordinary, but matter.”

After a couple of minutes, it was a moment to share. I thought a couple of people would share and that’s it.

It started with a few remarks and turned into fiery exchange of ideas and opinions.

Forty young people in leadership positions voiced their opinion, passionate about making a change in their hometowns and their country — from educational gap between formal and informal education and skills and experience required to find a job today, to racism in the world and Austria and how to tackle the integration of immigrants for a more peaceful and tolerant world. The issue of aging population and how to empower youth to ensure a sustainable development. Women leadership today in the world and in AIESEC (which is abundant with women in leadership positions).

Internationality and positive aspects of it in today’s globalized world, where conflicts seem to appear like fireworks. Start-ups and the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation as solutions for challenges facing the world today. Tackling social challenges and addressing those that are relevant in a country.

And many more. At least 20 people were actively sharing and feeding of each other’s ideas.

AIESEC Public Speaking

I was standing on the stage, listening to one person after another saying their opinions, listing topics they are passionate about and they would like to write about. I remember I didn’t want the exchange of ideas to stop. I was so overwhelmed by the passion about the issues mentioned and flabbergasted by a wide variety of interests. Forty young minds awake and aware of things that don’t work and willing to do something about it. Have you ever witnessed something like that?

I haven’t before.

I remember that when my enthusiasm and disbelief settled, I was angry — at people saying that youth today is passive; that we don’t care about anything but ourselves. I remember standing in the room with 50 people who paid to come to a six-day conference when they could have gone to the seaside like their friends did. I remember them talking at 7pm in the evening about issues in the world and at home they were passionate about and wanted to solve. And I remember one thought above all others.

That there is greatness in young people. They are aware of the world they live in — technology has made us interconnected and informed. They are passionate and they have an opinion. They are ready to be heard and to contribute to changes if the world will let them.

So how can we empower them? How can we make sure they get a say in what kind of world is being built for them? What kind of world they will live in?

Maybe you’re thinking now that we’re young and that we’ve got a lot to learn yet. And this is true. We don’t know everything. But we have ideas and we are ready to learn. And we’re worth it.

So it should begin today, because 5 to 10 years from now, some of those forty people will have leadership or executive positions. They will have the opportunity to decide which course we take, for better or worse.

Imagine if everyone thought like that. Imagine if everyone cared. Imagine if the world was made up of this type of young people — interested, aware, concerned and willing to participate and change the world for the better. Imagine the world they would be able to build.

And help them — help us build it.

AIESEC Conference

This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, which showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

How World Peace Begins With Everyday Leaders

AIESEC World Peace series highlights the stories and lessons from thought and everyday leaders from around the world on how World Peace may just be attainable. Contribute your story.

World Peace.

It has been humanity’s eternal, elusive dream. A dream that has inspired influential leaders like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Malala Yousafzai, to rise from being an ordinary citizen to becoming a leader to make a significant difference. There is also AIESEC’s very own alumnus Martti Ahtisaari, who was the 10th President of Finland and 2008 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his “for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts.”

Ahtisaari states that AIESEC helped him “discover new passions about diversity and diplomacy.”

Leaders like Ahtisaari are not super heroes, but human beings just like you and I who have strived to achieve extraordinary accomplishments. They are everyday leaderswho care about the world and take action to defend human rights.

Ahtisaari AIESEC

The peaceful freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi was once faced at gunpoint, but she did not give in. Instead, she demonstrated absolute courage and clarity by walking without fear to the line of soldiers and with the guns pointed at her, and walked passed it. Nobody was killed.

What would you have done in this moment?

The Lady Gunpoint

In the movie The Lady, Michelle Yeoh portrays Aung San Suu Kyi’s extraordinary life, challenges, road to peace and democracy in Burma, and is a compelling movie that showcases the power of nonviolence. The strength of this iconic woman is outstanding, and is a role model to show that fear cannot conquer our common humanity.We all live our own lives and we often turn down activities by saying “I’m busy.”

Pushing for world peace does not mean we all need to be walking in front of guns, but to take action even in the smallest ways. It is as practical as dedicating even a few hours a month volunteering for a cause that improves the lives of others, and yourself.

Being an everyday leaders means you are actively seeking for ways to improve the well-being of others in your community. An everyday leader can be as simple as:

  • Showing more compassion and empathy to those around you
  • Joining your grandparents for dinner even though you’re busy with work
  • Calling your loved ones to remind them of how thankful you are for their support
  • Volunteering for a social cause because it will make a difference in other peoples lives
  • Leading a peaceful movement of people to actively advocate for positive change in your community

These everyday actions, make a significant difference because you are now actively participating in your community.

Three specific TED Talks that will alter your perspective on the road to peace

In the Road to Peace playlist on TED, “these speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines advocates for society to have a more realistic vision of world peace. The talk focuses on rethinking world peace to human security, and enabling people to live dignified lives.

Scilia Elworthy a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Oxford Research Group that seeks to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, talks about how to deal with extreme violence without using force in return. Exploring the themes of how to overcome bullies ranging from countries to individuals without any violence in return

Julia Bacha a filmmaker who produced Budhrus discusses the power of attention, and how we often media and audiences pay attention to the violence, but not the non-violent leaders and peacemakers of the Middle East region that may very well bring peace to the region. Bacha advocates for us to pay attention to nonviolence.

AIESEC Youth Leaders

Progress will come, when all of humanity is awakened, moved to take action and not idly sit by to wait for change.

Young people around the world need to strive to become an everyday leaders and make positive change happen by taking actions that improve the lives of others.

How will you get involved in the global community and create positive change?

Submit and share your everyday leader story with us. Tweet us at @AIESEC or engage with me at @gdondon