I Can Make the Change
Curated Story
This article originally appeared on
Social Innovations Journal

If your teenager doesn’t know how to add two numbers together, you would know there is a problem. Math, like reading, is generally understood to be an essential skill for functioning in the world.

But what if your teenager doesn’t know how to read others’ emotions and act on that interpretation? What if your teenager couldn’t collaborate with others? What if your teenager doesn’t know how to handle uncertainty and problem solve in changing situations?

What is the new framework to navigate and thrive in this new reality? While math and reading are still core skills, there are four competencies that become critical.

First, there is a premium on those who have mastered cognitive empathy and are in tune with the people around them and can adjust their own behavior and actions to respond accordingly.


Second, with this empathy comes the ability to work in teams where everyone contributes meaningfully and productively.

In this kind of teamwork, a new kind of leadership — the third competency — is valued, one where strong leaders empower all to lead rather than command others to follow.

These three skills of empathy, teamwork, and multidimensional leadership lead to the fourth critical skill of changemaking which is creating one’s own solution to a problem for the good of all.


Ashoka Insight

In today’s world, change is the new norm. This is the first in a series of stories that highlight what it looks like when young people know they are powerful by creating and leading something for the good of all, and why we should make leading young the new norm for growing up.

Claire directs Global Venture and Fellowship, Ashoka’s core program to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs. Claire initially joined Ashoka in 1998 as the Latin America program officer, evolving to take on new leadership roles as Brazil Venture Coordinator, interim Brazil Director and Youth Venture Brazil pilot leader. During her hiatus from Ashoka, Claire led a UNICEF initiative resulting in the first inter-agency programming guidelines for adolescent girls and served as Country Director for Mozambique of Oikos-Cooperation and Development between 2006-2009, launching innovative programs at the intersection of livelihoods (agriculture and fisheries), HIV prevention/mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

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