It is true that leaders can come in all shapes and forms. Often times in a company or organization, you will find that the leader tends to be a person who has more experience. And as we know experience comes with age. This means that a lot of the leaders out there tend to be older, but that does not always have to be the case. Younger people can bring a whole new set of skills to the table and be great leaders as well, even if they lack the experience.
Maybe the situation is that you are currently you are the leader, but as with life, you find that you are getting older. You need to find a replacement for yourself and this will most likely be someone who is younger than you are.
Some would say that the younger generations show a “lack of leadership,” but I think when you really look at the younger generations, this blanket statement is simply not true. Younger people can make great leaders. They just need to be molded in the proper way to become great leaders.
Here are 7 ways to bring up young leaders:
Give them opportunities
That sounds simple, but it’s not. Many leaders are afraid to hand off real responsibility to leaders half their age. I can understand this because I made some huge mistakes as a young leader, but at the same time, that’s how I learned. Younger leaders want authority and a seat at the table now, not when they reach an expected age. Is it risky? Of course, but it has the potential for awesomeness to occur.
Young leaders are open to learning from a mature leader’s successes and failures. They enjoy hearing stories of what worked and what didn’t. That’s actually one of the beauties of the newer generations. The young leaders on your team will most likely seek out your personal experience. They will still want a chance to learn on their own, but they are ready to glean from the wisdom of those who have gone before them, especially in the context of relationships.
Allow for failure
People of all ages will make mistakes in leadership, regardless of their years of experience. For some reason that seems magnified for the younger leaders, which is one reason older leaders sometimes shy away from them. An atmosphere which embraces failure as a part of the growth process, invites younger leaders to take chances, risking failure and exploring possible genius discoveries.
Be open to change
More than likely, younger leaders will do things differently than the older leaders did things. They want more flexible hours, different work environments, and opportunities to work as a team. It may seem unnatural at first, but let their progress take shape and you’ll have a better chance of leadership development occurring.
Set high expectations
Having different working methods shouldn’t lower standards or quality expectations. The good thing is the younger leaders aren’t really looking for a free ride, just a seat on the bus. Hold them accountable to clearly identified goals and objectives. Applaud them for good work and challenge them to continually improve. It’s a part of their growth process.
Younger leaders need feedback. They seem to know how they are doing far more often than the annual review system of the past afforded. They are looking to meet the approval of senior leadership and the organization. Keep them encouraged and they’ll keep aiming higher.
Give constructive feedback
Again, younger leaders appear more interested in knowing they are meeting the expectations of senior leadership, so acknowledge that fact by helping them learn as they grow. Don’t simply share “good” or “bad” feedback. Instead, with the goal of helping them grow as leaders, give them concrete and constructive reviews of their performance. Help them understand not only what they did right or wrong, but practical ways they can get better in their work and leadership abilities.
Bringing up younger leaders is crucial to growing and maintaining healthy organizations and groups. We must be intentional and diligent about investing in the next generation, understanding their differences, and working within their culture to grow the next generation of new leaders.