By Priyanka Khemraj
Who is Craig Kielburger?
Craig Kielburger is a Canadian humanitarian, social activist for the right of children and best-selling author. He was born on December 17, 1982 making him currently 32 years old. He was born and raised in Thornhill, Ontario. He has achieved a degree in peace and conflict studies from the University of Toronto, and an Executive MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the Schulich School of Business at York University as the youngest graduate to complete the course. In 2008, Craig was named a member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General and has been named as one of the youngest recipients of this title.
What was Craig involved in that makes him a leader?
Craig Kielburger, along with his brother Marc, is the co-founder of “Free the Children”, which is the world’s biggest international children charity. He is the current ambassador and a full time volunteer for the organization. Using his organization, Craig empowers youths to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change and stands up for children who have no one else. He is also the cofounder of “Me to We”, a social enterprise and “We Day” a celebration of youth making a difference in their local and global communities. Craig has made a huge impact on the world by travelling to over 40 countries and building over 650 schools which has provided education to more than 55,000 children daily. He has also raised a large volume of money through his many fundraisers and donations.
What actions did Craig take to show leadership?
Craig has the many characteristics needed to become a good leader like honesty, perseverance, integrity, equality and initiative. Unlike most people, he took action on what he thought was wrong and fought to make it right. He founded “Free the Children” in 1995 when he was 12 years old. After hearing about the murder of Iqbal Masih, a child slave in Pakistan that had been murdered because he spoke up for human rights, who was also 12 years old, Craig knew that things needed to change. He gathered a bunch of his Grade 7 classmates and along with his older brother Marc, they created “Free the Children” and set out on a mission to free children and their families from poverty and exploitation. Craig being as young as he was knew how to analyze the situation and not only realize that there was something wrong but also has the courage and perseverance to take action and make a change in the world. Using his organization, they signed petitions and even faxed world leaders including the Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien. They brought child slavery and abuse to the public attention and despite the complaints and doubt he got from people and entire countries, he continued fighting toward his goal. Not only did he just spread awareness, he also took the initiative to travel to different countries trying to help. At age 14, he went to the slums, sweatshops and back alleys of South Asia to find enslaved children. Craig has received national and international recognition and has inspired the youth of today to become active global change-makers. Despite all the progress he has made, Craig will not stop until every child has been freed of these horrible circumstances. Like Craig has said “The change starts within each one of us. And ends only when all children are free to be children.”
Which three leadership traits did Craig apply?
Firstly, he applies 1) Courage is not the absence of fear – it’s inspiring others to move beyond. Despite being only 12 years old, Craig displayed large amounts of courage when motivating his classmates to speak up despite their young age and minimized the amount of fear and doubt they felt about their decisions. With Craig radiating courage and certainty, it allowed his classmates to believe in the cause they were fighting for wholeheartedly instead of with doubt.
Secondly, he applies 2) Lead from the front – but don’t leave your base behind. Craig always led by example, making sure he practiced what he preached. He leads his people in the right direction but does not abandon them later. For example, ever since creating “Free the Children” Craig has inspired his followers and has brought all the people who supported him along for the ride to accomplish his goals. These people include his original supporters like his brother and all the new supporters he has gained over the years.
Lastly, he applies 3) Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front. Instead of forcing his supporters in a certain direction or to certain decisions, Craig allowed his followers to discuss what they believed the “right path” was. For example, when Craig was first starting “Free the Children” he never forced any of his classmates into doing things the way he wanted. Instead, allowed them to talk and decide on their own about what they thought would be best for the organization. Craig only spoke his point of view and slightly persuaded his supporters into what he thought was best. This allowed his supporters a sense of freedom instead of just being told what to do.
Craig used multiple strategies to get his organization to where it is now. He was not only someone who could recognize when something was wrong but, he took the initiative to make a change. Due to this he became a successful leader, who has now influenced millions of people around the world.
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