What does it take to be a young leader ? Or to lead people of all ages and truly inspire them?
Many believe years of experience, expert knowledge and firmly developed connections makes a leader great. Yet, does time on this earth alone make a leader noteworthy? The military is arguably the best organization at developing young leader (s). History tells of young trailblazers like Joan of Arc, who led the French Army at only seventeen; of conquerors like Alexander the Great who controlled the known world before he turned 30. These young leaders thrived without a lifetime of developed knowledge, and instead created experiences as they went.
The modern business world has seen an influx of CEO’s under the age of thirty. Sure, they aren’t conquering nations or leading armies by the thousands, but they have the same qualities of these great leaders from the past. Time has proven that the valor of a leader is not defined by their age, but instead by their raw ability to inspire others to follow them towards the execution of a specific vision.
Young leaders must be able to motivate young and old alike, in addition to bridging the age gaps in between. They are not limited by the number of years they have been alive or what others think of them, so what is it that makes them successful?
Here are 5 habits you can learn from young leaders:
- They never underestimate others.
Young leaders set the standards high, believe in their team, and help them rise to the occasion. Assuming you have done a good job putting people in the right seats and developed a rock star team, give them the autonomy to execute without getting in the way.
- They believe in their vision.
Young leaders have a tendency to dream big. Experience and failure tend to make more seasoned leaders cautious, yet sometimes businesses need an epic vision to pursue. The most successful people in the world started dreaming big and taking risks at a young age. They have also fallen flat on their faces more than once. That’s where wisdom typically comes from.
If you’re a young emerging leader seeking greater responsibility and opportunity, speak up. If you’re a more experienced leader, keep your eye out for the best young talent you can find and give them the tools to help your business grow.
- They seek words of wisdom.
Young leaders lack one thing: experience. But effective leaders always listen to the advice of older team members and almost always have mentors. In the SEAL teams, the platoon commander is often younger and less experienced than his Chief. Any wise young officer listens to his senior enlisted team members and leans on them for their knowledge and experience. Be open to advice from elders no matter what position they hold.
- They take risks.
A Young Leader, without the weight of knowledge and connections, can put all their chips on the table which often pays out big in the end. Hopefully, those risks are calculated and decisions made using the best data on hand. Some of the biggest risks I have taken in my life have gotten me to where I am today. Those risks come with obstacles, but I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything in the world. That’s why we say in the SEAL teams, “All in. All the time.”
- They appreciate age diversity.
The 65-year-old receptionist may be just the person you need to identify with your target market. And the intern who just started college may have insight on what is popular with gen X. Age difference in the workplace can make for a well-balanced and unique team. Good leaders understand this and seek out the younger talent, put them in the right roles and then give them the resources to be successful.