Real deal, kick-butt, core leadership skills remain a major issue as the Millennial generation recasts the workforce. One study found only 4% if Millennials were interested in managing others, which ain’t many.
Despite their lack of enthusiasm about leadership, nearly 50% of Millennials are managing four or more people. And that is great! The issue is that their companies are not preparing them for those leadership roles. In Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study, 28% of companies report weak leadership pipelines and only 7% of companies believe they are “excellent” and developing Millennial leaders.
And that, my friends, is a problem.
It’s clear that Millennials need to look elsewhere for the support they need to become the leaders they are capable of being.
To do our part in helping the next generation, my team and I distilled our combined 100 years of experience into seven leadership hacks Millennials can use to kill it as leaders right out of the gate.
Hack #1: Your Job is to both Learn and Teach = So Always Admit When You Don’t Know
As a young leader, you may feel that you have to have the perfect solution to every problem that arises and that admitting you don’t know something will make you look weak or unprepared for your role as a leader.
But in reality, the exact opposite is true.
People don’t respect leaders “who pretend” to know everything. It is super easy to see through that charade and ultimately it hurts your credibility. Your team wants to know you care enough to be honest, learn, lead and fail. They want to help you grow!
Strong leaders comfortably balance a combination of vulnerability and confidence. They admit when they don’t know something and they use the people around them to help develop and execute solutions to problems. It takes “real deal” confidence, strength and humility to admit that you do not know something and figure it out anyway.
Ultimately, that is the type of leader everyone wants around them. If your idea of being a leader is that of a hero leading his troops into battle, think again. What you will find out quickly about leadership is that most of the time it is not glamorous.
At launchbox365, we find the best leaders are most often playing the field, doing the grunt work to make sure their team is pointed in the right direction, that their people have the resources and support they need to do their job as effectively as possible, and making sure everyone is engaged in their work every day.
Real leaders put in the effort to make sure everyone else can perform at their very best. For every employee who shines, there is an excellent leader who helped put them in a position to succeed.
Hack #2: Ask Great Questions
The most powerful tools we have are the ability to serve others and build relationships. You cannot do either without asking great questions.
If you think back to people who you feel the strongest connection to, they are probably people who spend the most time asking you about your favorite topic: you! Why is that? Because question asking demonstrates you care, puts you in learn-and-serve mode, and allows you to more effectively share your perspective, ideas and solutions.
Use this strategy with your own people. Take the time to ask questions and understand what they need from you. Your reward will be genuine connections with your people, and there is no better feeling than that.
Hack #3: Understand and Find the “Right” Mentors
There is no doubt there will be times as a young leader that you will be lost; it just comes with being young. You will be frustrated. You will feel that you are failing. You will wonder if you are up to the task of leading people. You might feel like quitting. It is called life.
And it is at these times that you need to teach yourself that you can figure it out. My partner calls it (“FIO”ing). Self-soothe by having the right mindset. That means understanding the challenges you face enough to ask the right people for help and then turning to those more experienced people for real and specific advice and perspective.
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and at all levels, both personally and professionally. Your job is to understand which mentors can provide value and at what time. That means knowing exactly how they can help you. Remember: the most important quality in a mentor is that they push you, they ask you tough questions, they help you focus on what you can control and how to attain and retain a positive mindset.
If you’re smart and allow it, they will be there for your highest highs and your lowest lows, guiding you with the perspective of someone who has already traveled the road you are embarking on.
Hack #4: Be Real & Authentic – Emotions & Vulnerability are Important Leadership Qualities
I have never been one to sugarcoat things and that includes my own feelings, doubts, and emotions. I have always believed that people have much greater respect for authenticity than they do for thinly veiled fake-calmness or understanding.
Be real and authentic with your people, they will appreciate it. When you are vulnerable and open people tend to trust you more. Trust is the basic currency of connection we use as humans to create deep relationships that last.
You are a human and so are your people. This doesn’t mean you need to be Ron Burgundy constantly locked in a box of emotion. But you can tell your people from time to time what you are stressed about, or concerned about, or feeling. It makes you seem human, opens up a dialogue that goes beyond work, and helps you connect more deeply with the people you work with.
Hack #5: Understand and Create Grit
I love people who have grit. When you cross paths with someone who is gritty, you know it right away. They are tough, scrappy, and they get shit done no matter the obstacles in their way.
And they do it with a smile on their face.
People respect leaders who are gritty. If you want to earn your team’s respect, show them you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty or to go the extra mile to deliver results. Grit is simply an attitude: it is about how far you are willing to go for your team to succeed.
And when you are gritty, your people will quickly follow suit.
Hack #6: Listen, Write It Down and Make It Known
Nothing frustrates people more than feeling their concerns are not being heard or their needs are being forgotten. As a new leader, the quickest way to earn credibility with your people is to make sure they know their opinion, concerns, or perspective are valued.
That is why we recommend not only listening but also writing down people’s ideas or concerns and making sure they know that you wrote them down.
When people see you actively listening and taking notes on what they are saying, there is a greater sense that you are taking their concerns seriously. And that can make a huge difference in your people’s willingness to confide in you and the amount they trust you to act on their behalf.
Hack #7: Enjoy the Experience!
Don’t forget to enjoy your experience as a young leader! If you see it as an opportunity, which it is, it shows. The learning curve may be steep, but the opportunity to lead others is a professional development opportunity unlike any other. Being a leader will put you face to face with unique challenges, your personal insecurities, and force you to overcome it all. It is a big responsibility, but you will ultimately be grateful for the opportunity. Promise.
Go win with these 7 hacks!