“Let’s go to the park,” she said, “I can go on the swings and the slide.”
She proceeded to ignore my objections, fetching our shoes and coats and pulling me towards the door.
My daughter had a vision, an arguably better vision for how to spend the day than I did. She shared her vision and then proceeded to bring together the right people and resources to make her vision a reality.
We went to the park instead.
Leadership is all about vision. It is about seeing clearly how we can be better and inspiring others to make the journey from where we are now to where we want to be.
That is why Greta Thurnburg is such a powerful leader. She has a strong vision of what the world should be like and her vision is contagious.
Often other skills like management, finance, and governance are required to a realise a vision, but people with these skills can rally behind a vision.
In fact, sometimes those with a lot of experience of management and governance come to rely too heavily on their institutional authority. They forget that true power comes from being able to influence hearts and minds, to cross divides and build bridges across those divides so that people can come together around a shared goal.
Sometimes experience and authority can even get in the way of forming a strong vision. Those who have been rewarded by the current system are often not best placed to see how society could be better. They also often have a lot to risk by offering a radical, new vision of how things could be.
You’re never too young to lead. In fact, in today’s world young people are uniquely positioned to provide a vision of how we can be better.
Whatever your age or background, if you have a vision for how society could be more inclusive and just, you have a place at the leadership table and you should take it, boldly, confidently and unapologetically.
Emily has been working full time as CEO of Irise since she was 25, growing it from a grassroots group with a £10,000 grant into an international NGO with 16 staff across two continents, working in partnership with governments and universities to realise period equality for everyone. In 2019 she received the Power Together Award from the Global Women Political Leaders Forum in recognition of Irise's contribution to creating a global movement to end period poverty and shame. She is also a co-convener on the UK government's Period Poverty Task Force. Emily believes that when young women lead they can transform the world.