Being a leader is a challenging thing to do, especially in today’s cognitive-oriented society and the world of new technologies, that seem to transform every aspect of thinking, requiring new skills and abilities for sustainability.
The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things,
Millennials, born between early 80s and mid-90s, continue to fill leadership roles in the workplace, while by 2025, they are estimated to constitute about 75% of the global workforce, bringing a whole new set of demands and expectations.
On the same context, current perspective on leadership seems to be reassessed, with the well-established culture of ‘one leads-the others follow’ being gradually replaced by a new system where everyone is equally engaged to solving issues and making decisions.
In this changing landscape, the gap between the older and newer generations’ approaches on leadership seems to broaden. The new environment creates new conditions for the leaders of today and, respectively, leaders of today need a different approach in order to adapt and achieve prosperous results from their teams.
But what are the key challenges a young leader may encounter?
1.Lack of self-awareness: Self-awareness is being aware of our thoughts and emotions from moment to moment and, thus, a starting point for leadership, but also a skill requiring years of self-training.
Tip: Acknowledge what you have yet to learn, admit you don’t have all the answers and never hesitate to ask for help.
2. Limited experience: You were not born leading a team and you probably do not know how to handle a situation when you firstly find yourself in charge.
Tip: Relying on past experiences maybe sometimes helpful, but let some time to discover your own paces and always trust your instincts.
3. Fatigue and pressure: Being responsible for the team safety and performance and keep everyone satisfied at the same time, means stress, physical demands and mental toll.
Tip: Stress is an expected part of the procedure, so make sure you also take some time for yourself to clear your mind.
4. Personal sacrifices: Leadership demands giving of oneself to others, in a way that a leader’s life becomes the property of those he/she serves. Don’t forget you are at the top, where there is no space for others.
Tip: This is a hard truth of leadership but efficiently managing your personal time can bring some sort of balance.
5. Communicating properly: This is a much-discussed issue, but implementation in practice is rather than easy. New leaders may find it difficult to openly communicate with their team about expectations or to bring up issues they are encountering.
Tip: Practice your capability to be brief and clear when instructing your team members to ensure that everything is going under the plan.
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- Setting goals
- Inspiring teamwork
- Simplifying decision-making
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6. Leading those who are older: And this is where the years of experience of other team members may contradict the fresh ideas and the ambition of a young leader. Young leaders may ignore generational differences or older employees’ experience.
Tip: Always take into consideration of the significant assets older employees can bring to a team, as the olders have probably dealt with more unexpected situations in this workplace.
7. Being liked: Personal assessments do not fit business, but under anything we struggle for, we are human beings. It is inevitable that someone won’t like you; not everyone goes along with everyone.
Tip: Keep away from drama, focus on how to inspire respect and avoid being biased.
8. Facing criticism: The nature of leadership itself involves making decisions and taking a position on different issues. This inevitably leads to some form of reaction. Especially if the new strategy includes some form of change, you cannot expect that everyone will align with your intentions and ambitions.
Tip: The first step is to accept that this is an inevitable part of the game. The second is to learn how to handle it on the inside and then on your behavior.
9. Inspiring others: Assuming typically a leadership position is not enough; leadership means inspiring and inspiring means keeping team motivation high. A leader should share passion for the work and set clear boundaries to ensure respect.
Tip: Setting a clear vision properly understood by all team members is a great part of motivating and inspiring them.
10. Impatience: This is a typical feature of younger leaders, who normally aspire change and a new way of doing things.
Tip: Give time to familiarize yourself with what exactly is going on before you go forward with some radical change.
Never forget that…
…leadership places heavy demands on the individual who fills the position. What you have to do is always keep communication open and focus on ten points:
- Knowing yourself
- Leading by example
- Admitting mistakes
- Listening for learning
- Being human, not humanoid
- Staying motivated
- Showing trust
- Giving the credit
- Linking results and goals
- Learning from the past.