I’m considered a young leader. Apparently once you hit your thirties, you think 23 is really young. C’mon. I’m only 10 years away from being the same age Jesus was when he left the earth. From what I’m told – he knew the ins and outs of leadership prettttttty well.
I asked my Pastor, Brad Farnsworth, some questions about working with young leaders. He has been teaching and leading me since fourth grade and somehow looked past all the “that’s what she said” jokes in small group and saw something in me. In return, I decided to answer the questions from my perspective.
What are some things you did right that you feel other experienced leaders could learn from when bringing up a young leader?
Be available. Too often leaders are so busy that they don’t have time for young leaders. They need your time.
Be patient. They are going to make lots of mistakes. If you’ve got a great young leader you’re going to have to be patient and just try to keep them from hurting themselves or your organization.
Give them a desk in your office. Let them get close and see you in action. Young leaders learn the most when they see veteran leaders in action.
What is the most difficult part of working with young leaders?
Young leaders think they know it all. I know, because I was once a young leader who thought I knew it all. I love young leaders but gravitate to the ones who have a teachable spirit. Those who have a passion to learn and know they don’t know are destined to be great leaders.
They don’t know it all, but they do know things that I don’t know. I can learn from them. I like to surround myself with young leaders and give them a voice at the table.
What is something you learned about leadership through young leaders?
I’ve gotta get rid of the grandpa jeans, but stay away from the skinny jeans. It’s a fine line.
I have the curse of knowledge. I have a lot of years of learning, failing, and growing as a leader. I often forget that young leaders are experiencing leadership challenges for the very first time. I need to help them navigate and avoid some of the pitfalls that I have experienced. I can help them get further down the road faster.
…now it’s my turn
What are some things you did right that you feel other young leaders can learn from when working with experienced leaders?
Seek Wisdom. Find someone who has done what you are doing or want to do and pick his or her brain. My dad has always told me that when given the opportunity to learn from someone, ask about failures and learn what not to do.
Be genuine. There are so many great leaders out there that the temptation is to try to be exactly like them. Be your own person. Lead in your own way. Learn principles from other leaders and create new practices. Principles never change. Culture is ever changing.
What is the most difficult part of working with experienced leaders?
Explaining what snapchat is.
But kind of. There is a disconnect between generations and how they use technology. I don’t know if there is a way to fix this disconnect, or if it is really a problem; but the technology gap between generations will only continue to grow.
What is something you learned about leadership from experienced leaders?
Continually be looking for young leaders. I’m thankful for the leaders in my life that pushed me out of my comfort zone and had the patience and time to help out some kid. Being in a position of leadership is a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around you.
The biggest difference between younger and experienced leaders is that experienced leaders have made it for the long haul. Being a leader is hard and being a leader who lasts is even harder.
The reality is only 30% of leaders last or finish well. This means a good chunk of younger leaders start really well but don’t make it for the long haul.
So what do younger leaders need to do?
Ask seasoned leaders who you know, like, and trust, why and how they lasted in leadership for so long.
Younger leaders like myself have a lot to learn about how to make it for the long haul.