Training the next generation of leaders in your organization may be the most important thing you do as a leader. We can argue what that single most important thing is. But, I think we can all agree that training the next generation is certainly in the top three!
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 to heart and begin to employ them in our relationships with young leaders then great things will happen.
- 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.
- Challenge Young Leaders – Yes, they have talents, skills and abilities already. But do not let them rest on those and only play to their strengths. Make them “lean in” to the uncomfortable and try something new or something old that they have never tried before.
- Work on a Young Leader’s Character as Much or More than Their Skills – Culture says the 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 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 time dealing with the wants, needs and desires of others. Get comfortable with this role.
- Be Honest 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 – 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.
- 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 “grey 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.
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?