“Leadership Built on Why: One Simple Idea that Will Revolutionize the Leadership Paradigm and Change Your Life”

Business, Lifestyle
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s heading into graduation season, when the children we raise start looking towards their futures — and for so many, what they are going to become is a question, and not an answer. As teens, we’re meant to be finding our voice and finding our wings. But as adults, are we doing a young person a disservice when we say, “Wait until you’re older, and then you can take charge?” According to youth leadership expert Anni Keffer, we are indeed. Keffer is the author of a great book that faces the myth of needing age and experience to lead — and flips it upside down. The book is Leadership Built on Why: One Simple Idea that Will Revolutionize the Leadership Paradigm and Change Your Life. It would make a terrific gift for a graduate — but parents, read it yourselves: you may learn something.

Keffer is candid about her own life experience, and passionate about the right of the young to stand for their beliefs and get involved in their communities, schools, and causes. She writes directdly to the reader, giving the whole book the feel of an incredibly coach somehow transformed into paper pages and black type. “I believed, like you, that I had to wait until I was older to be a leader,” she explains. “I had to bide my time and wait for the day when I was old enough or mature enough or educated enough to be given a leadership title . . . and more than that, actually be seen as a true leader, regardless of my title.” Waiting, as she notes, took root — and “grew into me choosing not to act.” Instead of standing firm, she stood back.

USABR Book Review

But being a leader and helping others always called to Keffer, and soon she wound up finding her purpose — that “why” to her life and work. Thank goodness. As a speaker at countless high schools and youth groups, Keffer has heard endless questions from teens who don’t believe in their own right to lead — and this book is a distillation of her responses to them. She offers step-by-step instructions on how to first give yourself permission to think about your purpose and your beliefs, then do the work to become a great speaker, doer, activist, organizer — whatever it is you want to be. Chapters are peppered with activities, including one page that just instructs the reader to tear it out.

From all the different parts and tools in Keffer’s book, it’s clear she knows her audience: she knows that one approach won’t necessarily connect with everyone — so offers a whole range of quotes from notables meant to inspire and encourage, which they do. But the message of the book: that everyone has a right to lead and a right to make a difference — is universal. She knows it’s one thing to state a belief and another thing to deal with the fallout, she knows that high school can be hard enough without being ostracized for speaking up, and she knows that no matter what age a leader, change starts within. If you want to lead change, be change, is the book’s message: be that person walking the walk and talking the talk, and others will follow you. And Keffer makes sure that there’s plenty of humor, irreverence, and cheery support along with her time-tested tips.

Leadership Built on Why offers a roadmap to boldness, courage, and overcoming that fear and self-doubt that keeps so many on the sidelines. This is certainly an era when we need all the voices we can get. The clarity of the Parkland teenagers, such as Emma Gonzalez, is a powerful reminder that the young are often the ideal leaders during troubled times: they’re energized, clear-headed, willing to put their heart on the line, skilled with messaging and social media, and, not to put too fine a point on this — more than willing to fight for the future of this country.

For more on Anni Keffer, visit annikeffer.com


Share This:

Leave a Reply

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.