Last year I had the chance to write a guest post for mynextgen.org, but I never posted it here, so here is that post. It was written for young leaders, but the advice in it is a good advice that can apply to anyone who wants to better themselves:
Being the youngest leader in the room is no easy task. I have had older leaders praise me for my enthusiasm and then two seconds later tell me that, and I quote, “It won’t last.” I have been told that I could not possibly understand the complexities of leadership because I don’t have much experience. I promise I have a point and I am not just ranting! As a young leader, I have strived to prove myself to my peers and elders, and I have worked hard to try to be successful. Over the years, I’m still young I’ll have you know, I have learned to understand what is needed to succeed as a young leader. Today, I want to share with you four pieces of advice that will keep you going as you lead.
1) Never Stop Learning
My professor, Dr. Monte Madsen, at Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio, TX, would always say, “Leaders are readers.” I wholeheartedly agree. A leader can never get the idea that he or she has arrived, or that they know everything, because that is simply impossible. This is especially true of young leaders. No one likes a cocky, big-headed leader especially if they are older than you. Make an effort to read at least one book a month. Enroll in seminars and conferences, or continue your education. Keep on learning!
2) Don’t Abuse Technology
Technology is one of the greatest tools at our disposal; whether it is for connecting with others, learning, promoting, and more. Technology has so much to offer. However, we can get so obsessed with the next best thing or preparing our online presence and such, that we forget to focus on the people. Bob Burg said, “Embrace the fact that leadership is never about technology – it’s always about the People.” Even when using technology it should always be people-focused, making sure that they get the best out of it. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to step away from the screens and have a face-to-face conversation.
3) Listen, Listen, Listen
The key to any kind of relationship is listening. That is true of leadership as well. As a leader you need learn the ability of listening in many directions: Listen to what the people you lead are saying; listen to what your peers are saying; and listen to what you leaders are saying. As a leader the consequences of pushing through and doing your own thing rather than listening to those above, below, or beside you are disastrous. Embrace the wisdom of those older than you, and know the needs of those that you lead. Lend an ear.
4) Don’t Ever Do It Alone
Teamwork is so important when in leadership, especially when you are young. Trying to do it all on your own can result in disconnection, burnout, as well as a big crash and burn. I should know as I have been there. About five years ago I started as a youth pastor, and thought I could handle it all. Within one year attendance was down and I was exhausted. It was then that I realized that I needed to build a team, and I did! I’m glad I did, otherwise who knows what would have happened. Get others to help you in areas that you are weak. Delegate and train others to do more.
This is not a comprehensive list of all I could share with you, however these leadership tips are some of the most helpful lessons I have learned, and they have helped me tremendously in my leadership journey. Follow these tips, but don’t stop there. Continue to grow, dream, and move forward towards greater things.