Leadership. Let’s give it away

Timothy Kolke
2 min readDec 1, 2021


Something I learned from being involved with youth organizations (when I was still in that age bracket ☺️), is that some leaders had figured out how to get the youth, not only in the door, but super pumped about the events and about being involved with the organization.

Photo by Imani Bahati on Unsplash

Thinking back now, it was pretty obvious how to recognize this style of leadership. It was apparent within the first few moments of showing up at one of the events. The telltale sign was that there were ‘younger’ people leading the event, while the ‘older’ leaders, even though you knew they were around, were not front and centre.

If I were to try to describe the secret to this style of leadership, it is that the leaders had given away their leadership to the youth, who found inspiration in taking up the challenge of leading. This opportunity to take responsibility, to be trusted with it, energized the youth and brought life to the events.

I’ll switch voices here. From our perspective as youths, it was our own thing, and we felt the excitement in that. It was nice to know that there were older ‘leaders’ around who could provide some mentorship when needed, but the main draw was that it belonged to us.

And thinking back once again over my time in business, it seems pretty rare that I’ve seen this style of leadership. I’m guilty of this too. I haven’t always empowered others by giving away my leadership. I don’t know why this model is not used in the business world more often, when it’s proven to be so successful in other contexts. It just seems intuitive that we would use it more. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that it can be difficult for us to give up control or to give up the opportunity for the affirmation of our own leadership abilities that we’ve worked so hard for.

And now that I find myself in a leadership role, managing a design team, and I want to apply this. I now have the opportunity to be this type of leader. In fact, I want this to be one of the defining characteristics of my leadership style. I want people to join my team because they want to be part of a team that values this.

So, my plan is to get out of the way, while providing the necessary mentorship, and let others grow in their leadership and make what we are doing their own thing — something that belongs to them.

I’m sure I’ll need help along the way, but this is something that excites me — building teams of young leaders, who in turn will also pass it on. Who else is in? Let’s try this out… 🤘



Timothy Kolke

Curious about design, research and humans / Head of UX @ Later