Mastering the Art of Sustainable Leadership for Young Professionals

Umesh Mukhi

The Interview is an exclusive part of Mindthis Sustainable Leadership Series which features cutting edge thought leadership from change makers across the world.

Photo: Youcef Redjouani in action at TEDex  Quebec 2013

Photo: Youcef Redjouani in action at TEDex  Quebec 2013

When it comes to leadership training , one certainly cannot ignore Youcef Redjouani from Algeria. He has been very active in international youth affairs and in the global circuit of AIESEC, an international student body. I have known him since 2010 and had an honor to work with him in the areas of inter-cultural dialogue and youth empowerment. In this interview I explore his experience of what does it means to be a leader.

Youcef, tell us something about your life in leadership?

Life taught me a lot of interesting concerns about Leadership which wouldn’t happen if I got stuck to books and paperbacks of leaders’ biographies and written experiences. Theoretical aspects can never teach you enough like living and practicing a leadership role along with getting interacted to leaders and change makers.

Leadership is an art, and to be an artist you need practice, this is why today after some experience as a leader on the ground, I can say that leadership is a smart balance between taking risks and driving people to next level of their capacities, and being intelligent enough to do it.

What is has been the most amazing leadership experience for you?

The most remarkable leadership experience for me were.. those moments where I felt vulnerable in front of my followers, that might sound crazy, but that was a crucial moment to get to know more about myself and the people I’m leading.

As nothing is for free, I have to be strong to stand up and face those who say «No I don’t like your way of leading » or « you’re too weak to lead » because at the end of the day, there are some people who will be affected by your snow ball of inspiration afterwards, that wouldn’t happen without having these moments of vulnerability.

What does Sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is a great word with an amazing meaning. It is to maintain things done for a long term period. For me sustainability means the survival.  We need to have the capacity and the skills to sustain   something or ourselves. To keep going we have to nourish ourselves.

“Maintaining sustainability in our lives means fulfilling the social, economic and cultural dimensions of life to survive, when we have the means we only need ways which is for me among the inquiry of leadership skills.”

Sustainability is not about doing something great once or twice and taking credit for it for your entire life. It’s about striving for the best, not is not about how was it, but rather tells me what I can do to improve myself next time and maintain it in a good way.

 What are the major challenges in Algeria? And what sort of leadership is required to deal with it?

I’m very proud to be born and raised in a country like Algeria, for some reasons. Algeria is a very rich country which has everything to be among the developed countries, we only face some leadership challenges at high and low level. Most of our leaders are stuck to the chair and don’t want to leave it for the young ones.

At the same time, we have a strong generation of young leaders who are under 30 years old that makes over 70% of the population who are well trained and motivated, also have the will to make a positive change in our communities.

The leadership in Algeria needs new blood to deal with all the political, social and cultural issues, among many others, the country is facing today. We need all the well trained young leaders to go deeper within the society to have a true understanding of the reality. But the courage of the youth should be guided by the wisdom of the old generation.

What advise you would like to give to our readers who are passionate change makers? Give us 3 key tips.

To be an effective change maker, we need to work on « A better me for a better us » so we need to start by changing our conditions in order to move forward with the community for a better future.

Stand up and think louder : Every single thought you have is worthy, and bear in mind that the idea you think is useless, there is many « someone else » here and there that the same idea crossed his/her mind, so dare to share your thoughts with your peers.

Shape your energy: We all want to be the change we want to see in the world, but when it comes down to it, sometimes we don’t know how to deal with it, we, as young people full of passion we start running rights and lefts, but at the end of the day, we’re getting ourselves exhausted with a tiny positive impact on us and people. So we better keep focused on one thing at a time, the world has many issues to be solved but it has billions of change agents’ as well, we’re not superman, and being everywhere means you are nowhere.

Stay humble : the road of change is too long and for that we’ve too much to learn, so we need to keep ourselves sustainable, and never say that I can do better than anyone else, because you don’t know everyone’s capacities, and the most eager you are to learn a new thing from new people the most you’ll get back.

About Youcef Redjouani

Youcef  is a mentor and trainer within AIESEC Canada , an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential, a network that plays a positive impact in over 117 countries. He joined AIESEC 5 years ago via Algeria and has also held different leadership positions working on various international projects in Tunisia, Oman and Canada as trainer or training director. He has participated in several youth initiatives. He has been an active participant of Seliger Youth Forum as a participant and alumni. In 2011 he had a leadership role among the SELIGER organizing committee as Ambassador of forum for the Middle East and North Africa Region and took part in the VIP meetings with politicians where he met the Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. He believes in the power of the union and gratitude, after each experience Youcef says: “I’m only strong with people who surround me”.  

The Interview can also be accessed on Sustainable Leadership Blog. The Sustainable Leadership Initiative is global platform to showcase best practices and engage trans-sector dialogue from business, government and social sector across the world in context of sustainability and leadership. You can follow them on Twitter: @sleadersummit and make sure you like them on Facebook!