Becoming a global leader: Results from a youth survey

What skills do youth believe they need to become a leader in a globalized world? The answers, from 4-H youth, offer suggestions for constructing educational opportunities in global, cultural, leadership and citizenship education.

Understanding one’s own unique strengths and assets; being willing to serve others without personal gain; and being empathetic (seeing other viewpoints and caring about people and issues) were the top three skills youth believed were needed for youth to become a leader in a globalized world. These results are based on a 2010 Michigan 4-H youth survey.

Having the knowledge and skills to get people involved and to help them meet their goals; understanding and appreciating one’s own culture; valuing collaborative leadership and the need to work as a team; and understanding and appreciating cultures different from one’s own culture, ethnicity or country were the next four leadership qualities youth felt were needed in a globalized world.

These seven skills share some commonalties, including a healthy self identity, aspirations for oneself and others and good people skills. Character qualities of caring, empathy and teamwork are also noted.

Learning to speak a second language ranked last among the 14 leadership quality statements that 205 youth responded to in the 2010 Youth Leadership in a Global World survey. This ranking is misleading as 50 percent of the youth believed this skill to be important. However, it does indicate the need for parents and educators to stress the importance of being multi-lingual in an interdependent world.

The survey participants included youth who have excelled in Michigan 4-H in one or more project areas and have a history of community service and leadership. They were state nominees for the 2010 Michigan 4-H State Awards. Youth who participated in five sessions (classes) at 2010 4-H Exploration days also took the survey.

The survey methodology consisted of two sections; one section on skills youth believed they would need to be a leader in a globalized world (this section is reported in this article) and a second section on activities and experiences youth felt would most spark their interest and help them become a youth leader with a global perspective. A four-point scale ranging from “not important” to “very important” was used.

See the complete survey results.  

To contact a youth development or 4-H expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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