Why Calling me a "Future Leader" is Kinda Gross

How often do you hear young professionals described as “future leaders”? Hark! Here’s an article showcasing this awesome student’s idea. Behold! Here’s an interview with a 20-something social activist. Over here! A blog devoted to showcasing the community development work that a whole group of millennials has undertaken. In each of these cases, it’s super likely that these professionals will all be described as future leaders. Here’s why that’s kind of gross.

#1 It devalues them and their work

If a young professional is doing something that is already press-worthy, something that is already, on it's own merit, meaningful enough that it demonstrates their leadership qualities, why are we talking about them in the future tense? Why can't they be valued and recognized as a leader now, since that's exactly what they are, in this moment in time. 

#2 It creates a "you're not worthy" environment

Millennials are often told that they have to "pay their dues". That they need to stop looking for an easy hack or shortcut to get what they want. Their common response: why? If there is a smarter, faster way to build sustainable and happy lives & careers for themselves, most are going to pursue that. "Future Leaders" can feel like a subtle, bullying way of saying "you're not worthy....yet". 

Why not "Emerging Leaders"?

I have been volunteering with a young professionals network here in my hometown of Halifax on the very East Coast of Canada for 2 years now. Fusion Halifax empowers and engages millennials to get involved and get out there in their city, through professional development, wellness and green initiatives and advocacy opportunities.

We call ourselves Emerging Leaders, because the future is now. I invite you to try it. It's way less gross.


Ali Breen