This article by Carey Nieuwhof is incredible: Seven Ways for Young Leaders to Overcome the Slacker Label. I think the content is a great encouragement/reminder for anyone who wants to succeed professionally.
His seven ways (which I recommend you read!) are:
- Show up early
- Show up prepared
- Develop a system for capturing to-dos with 100% accuracy
- Take notes
- Think productivity, not hours
- Advance the mission
- Ask for direct feedback
To these awesomely practical tips, I would add a few ideas that are more about skills that are developed over time:
- Identify solutions. When you go to work there will doubtless be things that are not working right. Many people become frustrated, start complaining or simply disengage because of organizational or process-related issues. By seeking to identify solutions and championing those solutions with the people who need to approve them, you can set yourself apart as a leader who is committed to the organization and to delivering value.
- Intentionally build relationships with people around you. Invite people to lunch or out for coffee. If you can afford to, buy their drink/meal. Think about questions you want to ask them. Learn as much as you can from other’s experience and perspectives. In the last 10 years. Identify people who have characteristics you want to emulate and intentionally pursue time with them. Doing this has changed who I am as a person and as a worker. I’ll be sharing about what I’ve learned as part of my Wall of Wisdom series.
- Learn active listening skills. Listening isn’t instinctive or even easy. Seek to understand what people mean more than what they say. Ask clarifying questions. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the value of listening. When I graduated from High School one of my mentors shared with me that the skill of listening was the most valuable tool to develop. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t get what she was saying. Then in the last few years it started to click I realized how on-target she was.
- Respect others, especially those in authority. Learning to respect others has been a long journey for me. The concept finally clicked when I read Created in God’s Image by Anthony Hoekema. The idea that everyone deserves respect simply because they are made in God’s image continues to rock my world. I have spent a lot of prayer time wrestling with Romans 13:1-7 about submission to authority. According to this passage God has specifically given individuals the authority they have. When I wrestle with a leader’s decision I always return to this concept, praying for wisdom on when to champion a different idea or when to accept their decision.
What about you? What skills do you think young leaders need to develop?