3 Leadership Secrets That Can Help Young Leaders Gain an Edge

We have had a lot of young leaders join our team over the last few years, some straight out of school.

I absolutely love working with young leaders, but one of the challenges is helping them acclimatize to working in a team setting with others.

Over the last few years, we’ve discovered a few key practices (call them secrets if you like)  that can help create traction fast when trying to optimize a young leader’s contribution to the team.  When adopted, these three can make a significant impact quickly.

I love these practices because anyone can learn them quickly, and frankly, they’ve served as great reminders to me.

To that end, the secrets are not really just for young leaders, they’re for all of us. Personally, the more I exhibit these traits, the better things go.

Three Secrets For Every Young Leader

So what are the secrets?  Here they are:

1.  Proactivity

So many problems emerge when people fail to take action.

Inactivity, uncertainly and hesitation create all kinds of confusion in organizations.  Things fall behind schedule, issues never get dealt with and frustration rises.

Uncertainty can plague people who are starting out because they are trying to figure out whether they are allowed to act or not.

Proactivity solves so much of that.

Take the initiative.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you to solve a problem, start tackling it.

If you’re not sure, ask.  They’ll at least be grateful you saw it, if not give you full authorization to handle it.

On the other hand, if it’s in your area and you see it, solve it.  I

If you are wondering, stop wondering, and do something.  It will solve a host of potential problems.  It might even get you promoted.

2. Responsibility 

Often in a team setting, responsibility for tasks is unclear.

Take responsibility for moving a project from inception to completion.

Even if you are engaging lots of other people to get it done, a project well executed from start to finish creates a great track record for young leaders.

Just assume responsibility.

Another situation in which responsibility comes into play is when clarity is lacking.

A team generates an idea, but isn’t clear about follow through.  Or an email lands in several inboxes but questions remain about next steps.

 This is a young leader’s chance to do two things.

First, clarify responsibility. Ask “what would you like me to do?”

And second, offer to assume responsibility.

Seasoned team members love young team members who take initiative.

3. Communication

I am convinced you almost cannot over-communicate.

Marriages and families collapse because of poor communication, and so do teams and organizations.

When in doubt, communicate.

This takes at least three forms.

Where there is a lack of clarity, ask for clarity.

When you have completed something, tell your boss (I love progress reports from my team).

When something is falling behind, let the team know.

If your supervisor has to ask you a list of questions about where projects stand, it’s a sure sign you could communicate more.

I also say to my team “Communicate, communicate, communicate.  If you are over communicating, I will let you know.”

I don’t think I’ve ever told a team member to stop over-communicating yet.

I’ve seen young leaders move from green to great in just a few months using these three practices as a go-to recipe for developing skills in the workplace.

Try these three practices in your workflow and with the people who work on your team and see if it helps manage both workflow and communication.

In the meantime, what have you learned about proactivity, responsibility and communication?

How has working on these three skills helped you?

Leave a comment!

10 Things Your Kids Will Learn from Your Marriage

I’m on vacation with my family, and today’s post is a guest post from Doug Fields.

Doug is one of the leaders who has set the pace for student ministry leaders over the last number of years, and he’s weathered the tensions that inevitably arise between leaders and ministry only to come out strong in both areas. Doug recently coauthored the book Married People with Ted Lowe.

By Doug Fields

When I speak on marriage, I’m always asked if I intentionally taught my kids about marriage.

The answer is yes… and, no.

Yes, there are times when we’ve talked specifically about marriage (either ours or ones that our kids have observed). But, for the most part, Cathy and I have been wise enough to know that our kids are constantly watching and learning from us without us having to do a lot of talking.

Our actions (both good and bad) are always teaching them about marriage.

I would be thrilled if my kids had a similar type of marriage that Cathy and I share… it’s definitely not perfect, but we’re both very proud of what we’ve developed over 27+ years.


10 Actions My Kids Have Caught Over the Years

Here are 10 actions that I know my kids have observed from us over the years:


1. Affection

Cathy & I are very affectionate and I like having my kids see me holding their mom’s hand, hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc… as often as I can.


2. Saying “I’m sorry”

 I want to be quick to use this phrase and I want my kids to hear me say it (and I have to say it a lot more than Cathy).


3. Affirmation

This is my primary love language so it’s easy for me to dish out encouraging words.

My kids get a lot of verbal affirmation, but they also hear me directing it toward my wife (which is really easy).


4. Attraction

I think Cathy is hot… and, I make it known around our family. I’ll regularly say, “Isn’t your mom beautiful?”


5. Time

Our kids know that we like to spend time together. When they see us steal time away to sit in the backyard and talk, or go in the hot tub, or go on a date night, or sneak away for the weekend…that’s a good message I want them to see.


6. Laughter

We laugh a lot in our house and my wife’s cute sense of humor cracks me up. I like having my kids see that my wife makes me laugh.


7. Respect

Opening the door for Cathy, saying “thank you” and “please” and showing her simple signs of respect.


8. Faith conversations

We’re not always praying in front of our kids, but they hear and see our faith conversations and know that we’re always talking about Jesus and what it means to be a follower.


9. The value of friends

Our house is well worn from the traffic of friends in/out of our house.

We love having people over and the Fields’ house is a regular hangout for some incredible friends.


10. Servanthood

I know my kids have had a better example in Cathy than with me because she’s the ultimate servant. Always asking, “How can I help? What do you need to make life better?” Serving one another is seen in the daily, little things and there’s many opportunities to serve.


Kids are always watching their parent’s marriage and yet too many marriages underestimate the power of modeling!

Children are taking daily recordings of what a marriage looks like and those recordings are definitely influencing and shaping their view of marriage.
Question: Do you have intentional actions that you’re modeling to your kids? Do you have some actions that are different from the ones I’ve listed?

If you do…leave a comment!

Special Offer This Week

My friends over at Orange Books are offering some great deals this week.

You can get any of the deals, any day this week, but, as a leader who’s passionate about people’s marriages, I wanted to highlight today’s featured deal:



Buy one copy of the book Married People, and get all of this:

• “Why Marriage Ministry Is Doable for Every Church” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe, audio file)

• “Married and in Ministry” (Orange Conference 2014 breakout by Ted Lowe and Doug Fields, audio file)

• an annual subscription to MarriedPeople E-ZINE

Plus, when you tweet or share any of the deals on Facebook, you’ll be entered to win a prize.

Just go to to orangebooks.com, click on the Married People book and place your order.

So…what are some things your kids are picking up…for better or for worse? Leave a comment.

8 Reasons Young Leadership Is Essential To Your Organization Now

As we discussed in my last post, college aged people and 20 something leaders have a bit of a bad rap.

If you listen to many leaders over 40, the complaints come quickly:

They don’t work hard enough.

They seem to want it all, now.

They have a hard time distinguishing between work and play.

They have an entitlement attitude.

What on earth happened to grammar, spelling and etiquette?

I’ve seen a few leaders that fit that description for sure, but many who are so different than that. Half of our staff is under 30, and I have to disagree with the assessment of the upcoming generation.

Sure, there are slackers out there.

But I know some 50 year olds who should get it together at some point. (And besides, you can train people to spell. Quickly.)

8 Things Young Leaders Can Bring To Your Team

The real challenge comes when you decide (for whatever reason) NOT to put young leaders on your team. And yes, I mean young.

As in starting at 18 or 19.

At Connexus, we have a Leadership Development Scholarship that brings a regular infusion of young leaders to our staff, and we hire full time employees young too.

If you don’t have young leaders on your team, both you and your organization lose.

Here’s why I think having a good representation of next generation leaders in your organization is essential:


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