advice for young people entering public life


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In a nutshell

So you want to be a leader is a non-partisan response to the poor state of our politics. Our aim is to equip young, potential leaders with the knowledge, skills and qualities they need to make a positive contribution in public life. In time we hope to see an improvement to civic dialogue in Australia – a kinder, gentler national conversation.


Starting assumptions

  • Many Australians are disenchanted with our political processes and leaders, and are inclined to disparage the political classes as ‘them’. This is especially true of young people, who are casual about the merits of democracy and disinclined to enter conventional public life.
  • Australia has been a lucky country for a long time, but some of the conditions that underpin this luck may not last. We face new challenges that our political leaders seem poorly prepared to meet, and our children may one day condemn us for helping ourselves to an unsustainable lifestyle at their expense.
  • There is much unbalanced, ill-informed opinion, particularly in online media, expressed in vitriolic, even poisonous, language. In facing future challenges, we would benefit from a national conversation that is more rational and competent, kinder and gentler.
  • There are great examples of leadership in public life. In particular, young people are finding new ways to engage with social issues and new models of entrepreneurship. We could learn much from those examples.

About us

So you want to be a leader is response to the unsatisfactory nature of our civic dialogue.  On the initiative of Philip Crisp, 37 successful Australians have set down in writing their messages to new leaders – see the list here.  A subcommittee of the contributors has been established to steer our activities – see details of the subcommittee here.


The brief to contributors was simple:

what could you say to an audience of potential new leaders that would most enhance their capacity to engage in public life?

The result is a new book, So you want to be a leader, published by Hybrid Press, Melbourne in May 2015 and  distributed by Dennis Jones & Associates.  The book hopes to make a contribution to achieving – in time – a better civic dialogue in this country.  Read more about the book here. The aims of this website are:

  • to help promote the book and to deliver it’s messages to the audience for whom it was written, the young leaders of the 21st Century;
  • to provide resources for young people contemplating a leadership role in public life;
  • to provide a space for young people to share their ideas about a civil and constructive dialogue;
  • to raise funds for a 2016 essay competition open to young people, in which they will develop their own ideas about how they will lead when their time comes.  Read more about the essay competition here.

Any profits from the book will be utilised for the above purposes.