Top Tips For Young Leaders

Top Tips For Young Leaders

By Mark Wager

The path of leadership is not a set path. Some people actively pursue leadership while others have it thrust upon them. Some become leaders later in life while others step into this role at an earlier age. For me personally, I got my first managerial role at the age of eighteen and while I was confidant with the technical aspects of the role e.g. product knowledge, processes etc it was the people skills, the ability to influence the team that I wasn’t so confident with. While I had became a Manager I was still learning to be a leader. Becoming a leader at a young age brings its own set of challenges. This article explores some tips to help overcome these challenges.

Tip One: Don’t worry about your age

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough” – Don Marquis

It can be a bit intimidating being a leader of a team when you are the youngest member of that team but don’t forget that age is not a barrier to becoming an effective leader. To be honest, in my personal experience I found that I was the only one concerned about my age, the rest of the team judged me on what I did rather than anything else. You will encounter a small percentage of people who believe your age is an issue but those people are the kind of people who are looking for something to be critical about. If you were older they would find something else to criticise. Some people will like you no matter what you do and some people will dislike you no matter what but the majority will treat you according to how you conduct yourself.

Tip Two: Create your leadership philosophy.

“Your philosophy is the single most important navigational point on your compass” – Bill Walsh

At the core of every elite leader is a leadership philosophy, a set of principles built on a foundation of experience, theory and beliefs. Their philosophy guides their judgement and decisions and forms the basis of every team they lead. When forming your philosophy ask yourself these four questions.

What type of person do I want to be?
What type of leader do I want to be?
What type of team do I want to be a part of?
What legacy do I want to leave behind?

No matter who you are, your philosophy will adapt and change but having it in place will guide you through the many decisions and situations you will face as a leader and that is not covered in any manual that your employer gives you.

Tip Three: Learn as much as you can about leadership.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader” – Margaret Fuller

I personally fell into the trap that so many young leaders find themselves in. I got caught up in the latest leadership fad. Whenever I read an interesting article on leadership I immediately went back to the team to immediately implement the ideas whether it was power naps, stand-up meetings in the morning or whatever someone else found useful. While implementing these tips wasn’t a bad idea in itself what I did wrong was implement ideas without knowing why they worked elsewhere. Without this fundamental understanding of leadership it was like throwing darts at a dartboard blindfolded.

You can learn leadership lessons from anyone who has achieved excellence regardless of the area of expertise. Lessons can be learnt, just remember not to focus on their method but why their methods works. It’s in the “why” that leaders find value.

Tip four: Be prepared to take risks in your career.

“Youth is the best time to be rich, and the best time to be poor” – Euripides

As time goes on your responsibilities grow and as they grow so do the realities of life. I’ve seen whole teams filled with people who have regretted where their career has led them. They usually blame the company they work for or criticise their lack of luck but the truth is far more disturbing. Each and every single one of them waited throughout their career for opportunity to come to them but what they fail to realise is that opportunity appears in many disguises and very rarely announces its presence. Opportunities increase in proportion to the chances we take and these chances are easier to take during your youth.

The path of every leader regardless of age is unique to them; the paths of other leaders may look similar but each step you take is your step and no-one else's.

About the Author:
Mark Wager is a Leadership Coach who specialises in developing strategies and practical tools in order to turn Managers into inspirational leaders. Mark provides a free 20 minute strategy session for anyone in New Zealand, Australia or the pacific Islands. The purpose of this session is to clarify your goals and identify what you need to do in order to achieve those goals. Mark can be contacted via the enquiry form below.

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Posted: Wednesday 21 October 2015

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