The Best Advice For Young Leaders

I was delivering a Leadership workshop last week to a group of very promising Leaders and I was asked this question “I am a young leader, much younger than my
26 Jan 2019 10:00
The Best Advice For Young Leaders

I was delivering a Leadership workshop last week to a group of very promising Leaders and I was asked this question “I am a young leader, much younger than my colleagues – how can I lead people who are much older than myself?” Leadership presents a mountain of challenges and if you are a young leader these challenges can seem much bigger so in this week’s article I want to share with you the advice I give when I coach young Leaders.


If you are good enough then you are old enough

A common challenge with young leaders is self doubt because usually their perception of a typical leader is someone much older than them so when they find themselves in a Leadership role it’s easy for self doubt to build.

If you are a young leader it’s important to remember that the only thing that matters is if you are good enough.

So why wouldn’t you be, you’ve been hired for this role because other people who have much more experience than you believe in your ability to lead and why would they be wrong. If you are good enough then age is irrelevant


ABC – Always be confident

I know from personal experience the challenges a young Leader faces because I had my first formal

leadership role when I was only eighteen.

At the time I was around twenty years younger than everyone else in my team.

I was convinced that the team wouldn’t listen to someone so young and there’s no way they would respect me.

This is a common situation and many young leaders make the same mistake.

Imagine if you are convinced that no one will respect you how would you behave when you communicate with people.

It’s likely that you would be nervous and perhaps timid.

Now imagine if you were on the other end having a Leader that’s nervous and timid, would you respect him ? If you do not have confidence in yourself then how can you expect others to have confidence in you? Watch out as you may find yourself acting in a way that makes your concerns a reality.


Be prepared to support your ideas

The reality of being a young Leader is one you can’t ignore and that is you do not have the same track record of success that more mature leaders may have and definitely not the kind of resume that you will have in the future.

When pitching ideas, whether it’s to your team or your superiors you will need to remember that confidence only goes so far and it’s unlikely you would have years of experience and trust behind you for everyone to fully accept your ideas immediately.

To influence people you need to be prepared to support your ideas both theoretically and practically. So simply ask yourself why and how will your idea work, what is the theory your idea is based upon, has it worked elsewhere, if so why and how will it work.


Don’t dismiss tradition

A challenge for all leaders regardless of their age is to embrace modernisation without losing tradition and what made us successful in the past.

As a young Leader there is a temptation to change everything you see and while you may see that as modernisation I’ve seen leaders fall into the trap of making changes for the sake of making a changes, embracing a new idea without fully

understanding that idea.

Change is necessary for every organisation but it should be approached with respect and caution because fundamentally what worked in the past works today and will work in the future.

Some of the best leadership advice can be found in the oldest books. A good idea will always work but it just needs to be adapted for business world of its time.


Start adding value

Everyone wants the same two things from their leader.

They want the leader to provide them with the skills, tools and resources required to perform their role and they want this to be done with clarity and respect.

As a leader this should be your priority. So look for ways you can make people’s life easier, look for ways you can help them improve. If you can do this while treating people with respect, valuing their opinions, giving praise when earned and providing feedback when required then the team will fully embrace you for the leader you are.


Invest in yourself

The advantage young leaders have today is the ability to access information.

When I was a young leader if I wanted to find out about other leaders I had to go to the library but today all of the world’s information is available via a click on a phone or a computer.

You may feel that you are embarking on a unique journey but there has been many people who have faced the struggles you are now facing and they have overcome them. Success leaves clues so use the journeys of other leaders to learn valuable lessons that will help you short cut your own journey.

Every week you should be learning something new either through an article, a book, a podcast or a video, every couple of months you should be attending some kind of training or receiving some coaching or mentoring.

Your focus as a young leader shouldn’t be about achieving your goals instead it should be about achieving your goals much quicker than expected.

Your five year goals should be achieved with eighteen months, your eighteen month goals should now be done within six months.

Leadership is not easy especially for young leaders but this is an incredible opportunity because being a Leader is an honour something that should not be taken lightly and if you approach it with the humility and respect that all leaders need to possess then when people look at you they won’t see your age, instead they will see a true Leader.




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