Research Associate Ash Institute for Democratic
Governance and Innovation Harvard University
"Do not worry about holding high position; worry rather about playing your proper role?"
Confucius (551-471 B.C.), Chinese Philosopher
What is the role of leadership education in times of rapid change? What needs to be done? What is our role? As the complexities of the world we live in increases in multi-faceted dimensions, more and more people seem to be facing adaptive challenges. However we, hanyangians, may not be addressing these questions and the issues surrounding them as clearly or frequently enough, thus possibly finding ourselves more and more lost amidst times of economic and social crises such as today. Because the dynamics we see in today's society, culture, economy, businesses, and technology all force us to look at ourselves from many perspectives that touch on our values and relationships, it is critical for each of us to have a good, strong sense of direction as to why and how we are taking part-as both leaders and followers of our society-in sustaining the development of the communities we belong to and the social achievements that have been made.
The Korea we observe today has become one of the largest economies of the world and has acquired much of the capacity? both hard skills and soft skills? to play an active role in the international community and contribute responsibly as a member to achieve higher impact in improving the condition of humanity. However, when it comes to the awareness of how Korean society and its members should go about in addressing the challenges that our world faces, I have encountered many Korean university students, Korea's next generation of leaders, not knowing what needs to be done first. In other words, there is an adaptive work that Korean university students must engage in more actively and tackle through exercising conscious leadership.
The need to challenge oneself in identifying this "Work" and overcoming it is urgent more than ever and social innovation and discreet change are the only solutions. While there are academic conferences and workshops to identify problems and proposing solutions, one of the best places to begin deeper exploration is the classroom and the dialogues we engage in with our mentors and colleagues on campus everyday. If done strategically and comprehensively, this is where strong, clear social awareness is established and "good leaders and followers" are fostered. It should not be just a short-term phase that everyone takes part in. It is an exercise of leadership and followership and a long-term investment for all.
Today's hanyangians must realize that they, as citizens of the world, have been challenged with the important task of tackling the critical issues that surround and impact not only Korean society, but also our world today and tomorrow. Therefore, it is vital that the school administration and faculty provide not only the logistical requirements to the hanyang community, but also cultivate a more diverse, open culture of leadership in the classroom to arm hanyangians with out-of-the-box thinking and strengthen a sense of social mission to strive for excellence throughout society. At the same time, students and researchers of the university should not just be content with what is just handed to them (i.e. better facilities, curriculum, study environment, financial aid opportunities, etc.), but continuously hold one self accountable for the responsibility they hold as a learned person and the higher standard they can commit themselves to. I believe that strengthening this sense of mission and social responsibility is what will give hanyangians and our next generation of leaders the direction and vision that this society needs for change, innovation, and most importantly, hope.