Purpose and participants
Our immediate goal is to identify young people (university students) with a capacity to become paradigm shifting leaders and give them training and networking they can use in their future careers. The long term goal is to increase the number of good young leaders in various disciplines in the Western Balkan region and in this way initiate positive social and economic changes in the society. Achieving this goal is a highly challenging task. We have to facilitate a perceptual shift from the deeply rooted traditional “idea of the leaders as an exceptional (and usually senior) individual to the notion of ‘everyone as a leader’”1.
To make our leadership program effective, it has to1:
• address issues of concern to young generations and how to facilitate positive changes;
• increase participants’ self-confidence and provide them with basic knowledge and skills that they can build upon in their future careers;
• help participants’ widen their personal networks in areas that would not typically be accessible to them within their professional career;
• encourage participants’ initiative, enterprise and creativity;
• contribute to the development and understanding of cultural diversity and promote tolerance in order to foster social cohesion;
• encourage cooperation between participants to work together on new initiatives.
We aim to bring together undergraduate students from very diverse fields of study, from social disciplines and humanities to technical and natural sciences. It has to be emphasized that various challenges in the today’s world require a good understanding of technical and natural sciences, which is often missing in the educational background of the Western Balkan leaders. Our program will provide more opportunities for young leaders to gain additional skills and encourage them to address problems with a higher level of complexity. This is why creating effective governance and mechanisms in support of modern leadership requires a combination of communication skills, technical and science skills, lobbying and entrepreneurship.
We plan to recruit young people from the entire Western Balkan region, but in the first year of this program we will start only with participants from Serbia and Croatia. These two countries have some similarities in areas such as language, educational system, culture, or economic background, but they are also similar in their lack of modern-style leadership. The first year will be a pilot phase of the project, when we are still testing our logistics and developing selection criteria. Also, we will encourage participants to get involved in organization of the future events. This would strengthen the networking between participants and help us to do follow up activities aimed at securing the sustainability of this program.
1) Background Notes on Leadership, 2007, World Bank, Washington, DC (PDF)