I am a sponge when it comes to leadership. I watch and soak in the wisdom from the leaders I have the honor to interact with personally every day, and I am constantly consuming every leadership podcast and book I can get my hands on.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned from observing leaders from all generations, backgrounds and industries — it’s the importance of the lessons learned, mistakes made and pages turned in their leadership. It’s the having the courage and ability to fail, learn and start again.
However, as a 20-something, it can be challenging when all eyes are on you, every action and word are monitored closely and people are looking to you to lead.
As a 20-something, our leadership styles, practices and spheres of influence are constantly evolving and developing. We’re still learning what works best for us, we’re still searching for the best communication practices and we’re still deciding which type of leader we want to be.
But if you’re a 20-something, and like myself, are in a position of leadership, it’s OK to still be figuring this leadership journey out. However, here are five things you must learn to carry to lead in any position, any sphere of influence, any job and group of people well.
There is one common denominator in the young adults I have witnessed crash and burn in their leadership journey, and that’s the lack of honor for those who have gone before them, paved the way and entrusted them to carry the vision and legacy of their organization. Above all, in any leadership position, practicing, modeling and exemplifying honor for those who have gone before you and set you up for success is essential.
Honor will continue to propel you forward if you can practice humility in submitting to the authority and leadership God has placed in front of you.
And honor will carry you further than any natural talent ever will.
On any road of leadership, there’s a point in time where we all are a “yes man.” We say “yes” to every request, every task, every idea, every meeting, every favor, everything because any leader in the beginning of their journey knows that saying “yes” to every opportunity now could potentially lead to an even greater “yes” right around the corner.
Unfortunately, delegation is a discipline we have to learn. The ability to say no to something good so we have the space to say yes to something great later is an ability we’ve not all quite learned yet, but that’s OK. We’re learning what we can say no to now and what we should say ‘yes’ to now. We’re learning that in our role leadership position, there are multiple people who have yet been discovered surrounding us. We’re learning that in the process of practicing delegation and empowering the leaders who around us by allowing them to say yes to something we said no to, that there is a reward in surrendering our control of every little detail and task so that another leader has an opportunity to flourish.
But as a 20-something, we’re starving for opportunity and yes. The most effective leaders will recognize a good yes now between an even greater yes waiting right around the corner.
There’s beauty found in honesty. It may be my favorite quality once I discover it in a leader. It’s a sigh of relief when I know they’re honest and genuine, and I can trust them.
The best kind of leader is a leader who can be honest and admit that though they may not know every answer to every question, they will do their part to help find the answer to the question later.
But at the end of the day, leadership requires us to not only be honest with others around us, but with ourselves.
It’s a routine practice of admitting our weaknesses and acknowledging our opportunities for personal growth.
And not only is honesty a must in any leader to carry with others and themselves, but it is a must to carry to God. It’s a must to be honest with the One who is ultimately leading all of us into His plan, His design and His calling on our lives. It’s a must to be honest with Him in where we’ve missed it and where we desperately need His strength to start again.
There’s an attractiveness about any leader who isn’t arrogant, but who is confident. There’s a distinct difference arrogance and confidence: one is found in the identity of man alone, and another is the command for every leader who finds their confidence in God to carry.
I know in my leadership that I am confident in the decisions I make and the ideas I share because I find my confidence in the One who gave me those God-breathed decisions and ideas. I know I walk in step with an almighty, omniscient God who has entrusted me with His work and task at hand. I know that to work out of anything less than His confidence in who I am in Him and what He did for me, is not His design.
I am confident because of His strength, love and Spirit flowing in and through me as a leader.
And at the end of the day, a leader must carry a passionate purpose in the cause and/or vision of their organization, church or business.
Purpose propels us into a promised future from the one who destined us as a leader at the beginning. Purpose keeps our eyes fixated on Jesus, His plan, His calling and His anointing on our lives. Purpose reminds us where we started and where we’re headed.
Purpose refreshes our perspective, job and expectations on us as leaders. Purpose empowers us to continue to carry the call of leadership. Purpose quickens us to run the race of leadership and operate as an instrument in God’s ultimate plan for humanity.