When Barack Obama became president in 2008, conversations in Britain turned to when we would see a similar historical moment; a person of colour becoming Prime Minister.
Just over a decade later, the most senior political figures in England and Scotland are both of South Asian descent. Humza Yousaf became the first Muslim and non-white cabinet minister to serve in the Scottish Government, before succeeding Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first minister.
This marks a huge step forward for representation, not least owing to Humza’s inclusive stances. Following his announcement, journalist Owen Jones tweeted him “Congrats — and thank you for standing by LGBTQ people!” Historian Tanja Bueltmann echoed this, commenting: “Congratulations and thank you also for your words on belonging — wonderfully said.”
Yousaf’s victory speech was indicative of his stance on inclusion. Sending a strong message to Scots: “No matter what anyone says, no matter who you are, whether Scotland has been your home for a day, or for 10 generations, no matter your ethnicity, no matter your gender, no matter your religion, no matter your sexual orientation, your transgender identity or disability, this is your home and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you do not belong.”
While some have expressed concern that he brings a nationalist agenda to the Scottish Parliament, you can’t argue that he is approaching his premiership as one of the most inclusive leaders of recent years.
In this, we see what he stands for and who he represents: a younger, more embracing, new generation.
The rise of a new age leadership: prioritising empathy, collaboration, and inclusivity in a changing world.
In today’s world, where change is constant and the pace of innovation is rapid, new age leadership is not just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.
Across business and society, young people are looking to the leaders that will provide a future they believe in. The days of top-down, command-and-control leadership styles are gone.
The new leadership style values empathy, emotional intelligence, inclusivity, and collaboration. It values people over profits, and community over competition.
Leaders like Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and Estonia’s Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, are leading the way with their new age leadership styles. They understand that leadership isn’t just about making decisions from the top-down, but about empowering their people to work together towards a common goal.
Their approach to leadership prioritises the well-being of others, encourages collaboration and innovation, and values inclusivity.
We live in a world that is constantly adapting to advancements in technology, increases in racial and social awareness, and large generational shifts; it is clear that the pace of change has never been this fast, but will never be this slow again. It is time that our leadership reflects this, and can keep up with it.
Thought of the week:
Inclusion is not just a buzzword, it’s a powerful tool that drives progress, innovation and creates a better future for all.
Tips for becoming an A player:
- Embrace difference, it is more vital than you realise.
- When you sense a problem, walk towards it.
- Your story is powerful — use it.
- Confront challenging topics.
- Be bold.