I have been on a bit of a “Leadership Development” track lately. That is especially true as it relates to young leaders. Training the next generation of leaders in your organization may be the most important thing you do as a leader. It has been said, and I agree, that the goal of leaders is not to create more followers but to create more leaders. Now, we can debate what that single most important thing is. But, I think that we can all agree that training the next generation of leaders is certainly in the top three!
With that in mind, let’s get right to it
Here are the things that I feel we need to be doing to keep producing new leaders. This list is not exhaustive. But I firmly believe that if we take these seven ideas to heart and begin to employ them in our relationships with young leaders, then great things will happen.
Train Young Leaders to Respect Authority – To effectively be in authority you must first learn to be under authority. They are “young leaders”. There are certainly some “gray leaders” around who have the scars and the experience to guide these young leaders. And these young leaders must learn to respect those in authority over them.
Play to the Strength of Young Leaders – These young leaders have immediately identifiable talents, skills, and abilities. Play to them and allow the young leader to experience success early and often in their developmental process.
Challenge Young Leaders – Yes, they have talents, skills, and abilities already. But do not let them rest on those alone and only play to their strengths. Make them “lean in” to the uncomfortable and try something new or something “old school” that they may have never tried before.
Work on a Young Leader’s Character as Much or More than Their Skills – Culture says that the end result is all that matters. That is false. How we achieve results is also important. Help young leaders develop good work habits early in their career. Character matters. When times of adversity come to your organization, people will follow the leader that they most trust even when they don’t know where the leader is taking them.
Train Young Leaders to Focus on Others – Young leaders need to know that personal freedom diminishes the higher we rise in an organization. And as leaders, we spend a significant amount of me dealing with the wants, needs, and desires of others. They need to get comfortable with this role because they will be in it the rest of their career.
Be Direct and Forthright with Young Leaders – You are not doing them any favors by not providing gracious critiques of their performance. Many have been raised to believe that they can do no wrong. The real world doesn’t operate like that and they need to understand that they will be told that they have failed and how to fix the failure.
Coach Up Young Leaders When They Do Fail – And they will fail. All young leaders will experience failure. But they may learn and grow more through a failure than a success. It is your job to coach them through the failure and come out the other side better prepared for that situation the next time it comes around.
What Do You Think About This List?
This list could be a mile long. I have left off many things that could go on this list. But, I would like to get your thoughts. What additional things do you feel we must do to train young leaders to take our place some day?