I love working with young leaders. I consistently look for ways to invest in and recruit those who are currently entering the field of leadership or who will be in the future. In doing so, I see part of my role in working with younger leaders as helping them succeed.
I’ve been practicing this for years with incredible results finding new leaders; for non-profits where I serve on the board, to businesses I’ve owned, to churches where I’ve served as pastor. It is often “easier” to get a “seasoned” leader, but I have found, in certain positions, the younger leader is the best option. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
5 ways to help a new leader succeed:
Eliminate the fear of failing – If a young leader knows failure is welcome, and that a certain amount of mistakes are even expected in the early days, they’ll feel more willing to take risks. They’ll more quickly begin to add value to the team.
Understand he or she may be afraid to ask – Asking may be perceived as a sign of weakness. They know that. New leaders sometimes want to make the best impression and often that means they will refrain from seeking help. They may have 100 questions the first day, but they don’t want to keep asking. Release the tension of asking. In fact, approach them first with “What questions do you have?” If they can’t handle some things on their own in the days and weeks to come you can address that then but in the beginning, recognize their need for help acclimating to a new environment and new responsibility.
Give consistent, constructive, encouraging feedback – Young leaders, even more from this current generation entering the workforce, need to know how they are doing and how they can succeed. They may have an idea in their own mind. It may or may not be correct. They need to know what you think. They won’t know unless you tell them.
Tell them what they need to know, but don’t know to ask- There are always things in any organization that a person needs to know to be successful. The unwritten rules, the hidden culture. It isn’t written in a handbook or in a employee orientation, but you can make young leaders better by letting them in on “secrets” they’ll learn anyway sooner or later. It will be easier to learn them from you.
Give them a seat at the table of influence – They probably haven’t earned it, but it will make them a better leader. It will stretch them. They won’t always feel prepared, but you already gave them the freedom to fail, right? Let them have some insight. Give them an early voice. They will more quickly feel like an insider and a part of the team and you’re more likely to discover a potential superstar leader.
Those are my suggestions.