I love working with younger leaders. It keeps me young and it helps to know I’m investing in something and someone who will likely last beyond my lifetime.
I also love sharing some things I’ve learned from experience. Some of it hard experiences.
If you can learn and practice some of what I’ve learned early in your career, it will help you avoid having to learn by experience.
Please know these are intended to help—not hurt or discourage. I believe in you.
Here are seven random pieces of advice I give young leaders:
Never attend a meeting without some way to take notes.
It helps you remember to write it down, but it also communicates you care about what is being discussed. If you take notes on your electronic device (phone), be sure to tell people this is what you are doing.
Respect your elders.
The fact is you may not always feel respected by them, but that’s their fault not yours. Showing respect to people older than you now will help ensure you receive natural respect from others when you’re the elder in the relationship.
Learn all you can from everyone you meet.
This includes the awkward, even difficult people that you encounter. (You may actually learn more from them if you’re willing.)
Keep a resume handy and keep revising it.
You may never use a resume again in today’s work world. It’s all about knowing someone, or knowing someone who knows someone. But the discipline of gathering your experience as you gain it forces you to think through your worth to a future employer. You’ll likely be asked to defend this someday and need to be prepared. (Also keep your LinkedIn account up-to-date. Future employers will look.)
Never burn a bridge.
You’ll be surprised how many times relationships come back around. Don’t be caught by surprise. Leave well always. Always honor your past.
Be an encourager.
Encouragers win the approval of others and are rewarded because they are liked. Be a genuinely positive influence on your team.
Never underestimate a connection made.
When someone introduces you to someone, consider it a high compliment. Follow through on the opportunity to know someone new. Always value networking. You’ll be surprised how often these relationships will work for good.
Drop the defensiveness.
Young people often get defensive when a person with more experience challenges them. This is especially true when being corrected by a leader. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t yet know. It’s OK. Learn from your mistakes. Grow from correction. Be patient with those who are trying to teach you. Get the chip off your shoulder and allow feedback to make you better. Over time you’ll win over those who see you as inexperienced.
There are seven random suggestions.
Elders, what other suggestions would you advise?