We’ve had a lot of young leaders join our team over the last few years, some straight out of college.
Despite all the stereotypes about young leaders, I actually love working with young leaders and have seen them do amazing work.
But as their boss, one of the key challenges I’ve faced is helping them acclimatize to working in a team setting with others.
Over the last few years, I’ve discovered a few key practices (call them secrets if you like) that can help create traction fast and even soar at work.
When I’ve coached young leaders (some as young as 19) in these three areas, I’ve seen their performance move from good to great in months.
The best thing about these practices is that anyone can learn them quickly. Frankly, they’ve served as great reminders to me as well, regardless of the fact that I’ve been leading for a few decades now. The more I exhibit these traits (and everyone does), the better things go.
These secrets work especially well with young leaders because it seems to be a skill set they’re lacking as they enter the workplace.
So if you’re a young leader, try embracing these. If you coach young leaders like I do, try coaching them in these three areas.
So what are the secrets? Here you go:
1. Be ProActive
So many problems emerge when people fail to take action.
Inactivity, uncertainly and hesitation create all kinds of confusion in organizations, and sadly, it’s way more normal than you’d expect.
Things fall behind schedule, issues never get dealt with and frustration rises.
As a result, uncertainty plagues leaders who are starting out because they’re trying to figure out whether they’re allowed to act or not.
Proactivity solves so much of that.
My advice to young leaders is this: don’t wait for someone to ask you to solve a problem, start tackling it.My advice to young leaders is this: don't wait for someone to ask you to solve a problem, start tackling it. Click To Tweet
If you’re really uncertain whether that’s a good idea or not, then ask. My guess is your boss will be grateful you saw the problem and might give you full permission to handle it. I tend to do that.
On the other hand, if the problem is clearly in your area, solve it. A good rule of thumb: if you see it, solve it.
If you just sit there wondering, stop wondering, and do something. It will solve a host of potential problems.
It might even get you promoted.if you see it, solve it. Being proactive might even get you promoted. Click To Tweet
2. Take Responsibility
Often in a team setting, responsibility for tasks is unclear.
As a result, it’s a good idea to 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.
Say your team generates an idea, but no one is clear about follow-through. Or an email lands in several inboxes but no one is sure 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 tend to love young team members who take initiative. I know I do.A project well executed from start to finish creates a great track record for young leaders. Just assume responsibility. Click To Tweet
I am convinced you can almost never over-communicate.
Marriages and families collapse because of poor communication, and so do teams and organizations.
A good rule of thumb in leadership is when in doubt, communicate.You can almost never over-communicate. Marriages and families collapse because of poor communication, and so do teams and organizations. Click To Tweet
For emerging leaders, 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 a project you’re working on is falling behind, tell your boss before your boss discovers it on his or her own.
If your supervisor has to ask you a list of questions about where projects stand, it’s a sure sign you could communicate more.
For years now I’ve said to my team “Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you’re over-communicating, I’ll let you know.”
I have yet to tell a team member to stop overcommunicating.If your supervisor has to ask you a list of questions about where projects stand, it's a sure sign you could communicate more. Click To Tweet
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What have you learned?
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.
In the meantime, what have you learned about proactivity, responsibility and communication? How has working on these three skills helped you?