Liberian Youth Define Leadership Qualities

Since our return from Liberia in September, we have been reviewing the data we gathered from the young men and women who participated in our two-day workshop. One of the documents that our young participants completed was a pre-workshop information form. This form listed ten questions focusing on problem solving, helping others, character building and much more. The purpose of this form was to better understand these young mindsets before they were challenged by the two-day creative and innovative thinking workshop.

One of the questions asked on this form was “what are three qualities you find important in a leader?” When reviewing these forms a few days before the workshop, we were quite impressed by their responses. Clearly, they can visualize what makes a good leader despite being confronted examples of corrupt leadership. So, it seems fitting that their thoughtful effort be shared with a greater audience.

How does one best convey what these young Liberian men and women named are important leadership attributes? Well, it was not going to be easy, because there were 54 respondents and some of the qualities were mentioned more than once. Of course the obvious option would be to publish a simple list that would start with the most important trait at the top. However, it would do little to symbolize what they saw as the ideal leader.

So, the next option was to illustrate their ideas in what is known as a word cloud (i.e. tag cloud) as shown below.

 This graphic has many layers to its design. The leadership qualities that were mentioned more than once were carefully laid out within the national borders of Liberia. The green background with the brown edging represents Liberia’s lush rain forest and fertile ground, which is ready to be planted with the purposeful seeds of these emerging leaders. The color and size of each word represents the number of times a particular quality was mentioned.

Here are the most commonly named qualities:

  1. Patient: selected 9 times
  2. Respectful: selected 7 times
  3. Innovative and Visionary: selected 6 times each
  4. Committed, Compassionate, Good Listener, Humble & Open: selected 5 times each  
  5. Green qualities: selected 4 times each
  6. Yellow qualities: selected 3 times each
  7. Red qualities: selected 2 times each

This word cloud was not able to accommodate all the qualities that were chosen. Therefore, the illustration below shows the “The Honorable Mentions” for the leadership traits that were only selected once.

Both visuals will be included in our workshop next October when we return to Liberia. As we prepare for next year, we want to continue to find creative and thoughtful ways to capture what these young people expressed before, during and after the workshop. There is much to be gained from their insights and perspectives about the world. Let’s face it…our young men and women around the world are the next leaders in business, government, academia and so forth. This is why we value their input and inspire them to become the next great leaders of the 21st century.

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