It’s not about harnessing the energy & talent of young people, it’s about unleashing them.”

Douglas Adam, Head of Public and Not for Profit practice at Livingston James, share his thoughts following our Leadership Conversation with Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of Young Scot.

With 2018 being the Year of Young People (#YOYP2018), Livingston James were delighted to welcome Louise Macdonald OBE, to the latest in our series of Leadership Conversations. She eloquently shared her views on the experience of being a young person in Scotland and how everyone should make the most of this year in order to shape a positive future for all young Scots.

Louise has been CEO of Young Scot since 2008 – a national youth information and citizenship charity who support young people aged 11 – 26 in making informed decisions and choices. As an organisation, Louise highlighted that they look to “empower young people and provide them with the tools to thrive and not just survive in our community.”

In 2016, Scotland was measured alongside 42 countries as part of the Health Behaviours in School Age Children report. Some of the headlines shocked the audience as Scotland featured very low in the rankings for positive mental health and strong self-confidence and reiterated the importance of engaging and supporting Scotland’s young people.

We should be proud that Scotland are the first country to dedicate a whole year to celebrating young people. Co-designed by young Scots, it has 6 key themes:

  • Participation
  • Education
  • Health and Well being
  • Equality and Discrimination
  • Enterprise and Regeneration
  • Culture

Whilst the legacy of this year in Scotland will be significant in so many ways, Louise believes the real transformation could be in how decision-making spaces and boardroom tables are opened up further to young people.

Louise suggested that young people now live in a “VUCA” world: Volatile; Uncertain; Complex and Ambiguous. This means we need to consider how we personally send messages out to the world and, more specifically, our young people. As leaders, there are important aspects to consider if we are to be sustainable and successful:

  • What is the story you tell to young people


  • Do you call out negative behaviour towards our young people? Do you tolerate more than you admit? Don’t forget – “if you permit it, you promote it”


  • How will you use your power thoughtfully, wisely and with compassion and love? Let’s not be afraid of the word ‘love’. As Louise highlighted, it is the most powerful change agent in the world

Throughout the co-designing process of the Year of Young People, it emerged that all our young Scots wanted was for adults to be nice to them, stand up for them and be proud of them.

We believe the Year of Young People should matter to every one of us. It is a real opportunity for each us to play our part, not just this year, but for every year to come.

For more information on the Year of Young People please visit: or search the hashtag #YOYP2018 on Twitter.

Should you wish to be invited to future Leadership Conversation events, please contact Clodagh Walsh on [email protected]


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