8 Reasons Young Leadership Is Essential To Your Organization Now

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:

1. They bring enthusiasm and optimism to their work

They just don’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders yet, and often the problems of life haven’t surfaced the way they do to those of us in our thirties and beyond.


2. They understand next generation trends

I try to stay current, and for a person with 19 years in leadership, I think I do all right. But I’m not 22. Younger leaders see things differently.

They grew up in a culture that I didn’t. Having their voice around the table gives me a much better sense of what resonates and what doesn’t.

If you want to connect with the emerging generation, having the emerging generation around your table is irreplaceable.


3. They challenge assumptions

Because they are trying to figure out how the world works, they ask great questions and challenge assumptions.

They haven’t made peace with the status quo. As a result, some of the best insights and solutions for problems will come from next generation leaders because they see things differently.


4. They learn fast

A 23 year old can go from good to great in a few years. And many are motivated to do it.


5. They are technologically smart

My friends think I’m tech-savvy, even a bit a tech-obsessed.

But put me around an 18 year old or 25 year old and I feel like the person who can’t figure out why their VCR keeps blinking 12:00.

I have no proof, but I think somehow they are capable of learning things faster than previous generations were.

They were raised in a fast moving world, and it shows. Leverage that.


6. They are your succession plan

Senior leaders often like to run with their peers. I get that. So do I.

And you need wisdom and maturity in any organization.

But if you are not stacking your team with leaders 10, 20 and in some cases 30 years younger than you, you are not positioning your organization for future relevance or success.


7. They’re fun to work with

They love fun. And who wants to work in a boring workplace?


8. They are passionate about the mission

They don’t want their job to just be a job.

If you lead a church or a non-profit, chances are your young leaders will own your mission, vision and values deeply.

They want to make a difference in the world, and they are passionate promoters of causes they believe in – which can turn out to be great for your organization.

That’s what I see in the young leaders I work with.

What are you seeing?

And how have you made young leaders an essential part of your organization?

Leave a comment!


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  1. Steven on June 16, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    I was a young leader in many situations, now I’m an older leader.
    Some of these points are generally truer of young people, but some are personality based more than they are age based.
    I’m 46 and questioning the process as much as I did when I was 20, with even more maturity, wisdom, and experiential reasons to do so.

    For #1, this tends to be true, but the drawback is while they don’t have the weight of the world on their shoulders, they may not understand why older employees are bothered by some things which they absolutely should be bothered by. The young person may not have been put through the ringer, seen leadership fail, not meet promises, or come and go, etc.

    Also, in hiring younger leaders, they often aren’t prepared to handle challenges to their leadership if they’ve never truly dealt with that before. With their excitement often comes personal attachment to their ideas. That first challenge can really be difficult, especially if they are in charge of other people. Young leaders will often need to be given a lot of training in bottom-up leadership, handling confrontation and disagreement and challenges to their leadership, and training in recognizing multiple perspectives.

  2. Vinyoh Luther kongnyuy on August 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks Sir for the great inspirational write up, it’s mind blowing. All the points raised are all in line. We both need the old and the young to work together to have a great and growing organisation or company.
    Some times I ask a lot of questions like ” why do young leaders failed”? What is the impact of veterans or old leader’s in an organisation? I did a research together with my inspiration and experience I wrote a book why leaders fail. This was because young leaders keeping failing in their responsibilities and are sacked few months after their appointments . implies young leaders by nature are too reactive and thinks there are better than the veteran, when allowed them by themselves there are band to fail. So they need of caution and humility

  3. Derek Robinson on March 18, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Hey Carey.

    I’m writing a blog for a class about being young in ministry, and I wanted to bring up some points from this blog post.

    Can I use your blog for mine?

  4. Links for Leaders 9/5/14 | Do You Really Believe? on September 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

    […] As young people graduate college and begin to work in various vocations, they are going to begin taking leadership positions. Cary Nieuwhof shares eight reasons why young leaders are important for your organization. […]

  5. […] Carey Nieuwhof As we discussed in my last post, college aged people and 20 something leaders have a bit of a bad […]

  6. manofredearth on August 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Someone took a chance on me when I was twenty and I can’t imagine how different things would be if he hadn’t.

    That being said, #7 seems like a pretty gross over-generalization. 😉

    Thanks for putting this out there!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 26, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Such a great point. People took chances on me too.

      I just find younger leaders value fun more than older leaders. I like that. 🙂

  7. JC on August 16, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Thank You Carey. 28 yo.

  8. […] 8 Reasons Young Leadership Is Essential To Your Organization Now by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  9. […] 8 Reasons Young Leadership Is Essential To Your Organization  “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?” Carey Nieuwhof provides some compelling reasons to lean into young. […]

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