Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here.
Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here.
***UPDATE*** I'm a year removed from being on a strategic 4 month sabbatical. This time last year I was in the middle of it. It's been quite a year. And the last 12 months have provided some incredible learnings.
So looking back, here are 10 reflections and learnings one year later that hopefully will help you in your own leadership journey.
1. I got my smile back. Stepping away allowed me to rediscover the passion. Finding joy in the journey again. At Catalyst Atlanta the first week of October- I was in the "mosh pit" during the evening session on Thursday down on the floor in front of the stage. Matt Redman looked down and almost laughed out loud while singing because he was so surprised to see me! I’m not too cool or too old. Passion and zest for the current season.
2. What I do is not who I am. Who you are is not what you do. My identity is simply a follower of Jesus. I'm okay with that on my business card. My identity is in Jesus. I'm not the "Catalyst guy" anymore, and I thought that would be incredibly difficult. And it has been. My identity and my need to know what is next are the two most difficult things for me to deal with and work on as an ENTJ. But ultimately, I had to answer the question "Who am I, really?" I’m Brad, and I’m a follower of Jesus. Period. End of story. I'm Brad. Not Catalyst Brad. Just Brad.
3. Getting out of the way is part of my responsibility as a leader. There is tremendous power in passing on the power to the next wave of leaders behind you. Getting out of the way and letting other leaders step up is healthy. Removing myself from the equation as the organizational leader gives a chance for other leaders on your team to step up. Stepping out of the way allows others to step up. Others step up when you step out. Pass the baton. Most leaders hold on for too long. Let go before you need to or are forced to. Generation transfer- we are always replacing ourselves. Constantly. Not just when you're CEO or President or Senior Pastor or Executive Director. Great leaders model succession constantly. At every level in an organization, in every role, at every intersection.
4. Calling is demonstrated and reflected by seasons, and specific assignments within that season. Seasons of assignment gives me freedom and flexibility in how I appropriately view life. My season and assignment of leading Catalyst has ended. Been completed. Driving the Catalyst bus has ended. But that doesn't change my overall calling- to influence influencers. It just means this chapter of the book is complete. But the story continues! On to the next chapter. The book is not done, just the chapter completed. Just because you're not driving the bus doesn't mean you can't still be on the bus. I'm the kid now in the back of the bus rolling down the bus window and waving at all the people on the sidewalks walking by!
5. Margin matters. Rest and margin and space are crucial for a leader- rhythm is incredibly important. Speed kills. Change the pace. You have to slow down in order to speed up. Don’t avoid or under-estimate the value of this. You won’t realize it till it’s too late. Burnout might be right around the corner. We have to recharge as leaders. And renewed fresh vision requires a renewed fresh mind. Waiting on God is an active thing, not a passive thing. Margin allows for us to hear from God, because the distractions are removed. Many times God is speaking, we just can't hear because of the speed we're traveling and the number of songs on repeat in our earbuds that are good, but not the best. Listening intently to God requires connecting intently with God. I'm waiting on God to reveal what is next in my story that is part of His story.
6. I’m not winning if the people closest to me and working with me and for me are not fully flourishing. Wow- this one punched me right in the face. I was allowing the pursuit of the purpose to get in the way of people. The vision and goal and finish line matters, but not at the expense of leaving people in the ditch. I was not a good friend. I’m great with the wider community, but have to work really hard at making sure I’m constantly connecting and in true community with those closest to me. And the people closest to me were getting the worst of me, or none of me. And were suffering the most. While those on the outside still thought I was the cat's meow.
7. Pruning is not fun, but is required if you want to lead. Being pruned requires getting kicked in the pants, slapped across the face a bit, punched in the stomach, and patted on the back. Pruning is required if you’re going to go to the next level in your leadership and in your life, especially as a follower of Jesus. Being pruned is needed in order to move from one season to the next, as well as part of the process of discipleship of becoming more like Christ. John 15:5, a branch being pruned and cut back in order to bear more fruit in the next season. Pruning was difficult, but very needed. I was the poster boy for the theme of Known. Who you are before what you do, that ultimately will provide the legacy for what you’ll be known for. I didn’t realize I would end up walking through a transition and leadership mile marker on the life road partly due to a conference theme that I helped create!
8. My leadership was stale. I was not a good leader the last few years. I looked the part, but was decaying from the inside out. I had to step back and realize this. It’s important to step back into my true identity- the last couple of years had pushed me into being a leader that is not completely parallel to who I am. Slowly, over time, leadership had become something I was supposed to be an expert on, but not actually doing. Yikes. Dangerous place. I can be having lots of success and growing a movement and making a difference yet disregarding those closest to me. Have to lead myself first. Taking a time out and a break is imperative to be able to stop and notice that you are off course and drifting out to sea. The slow decline and slightly off course can derail you in the long term. Have to stop and look inward. And looking inward is difficult. Dying to a season is hard.
9. Good fruit is required. As a leader, what are you building, vs. who are building into? Your leadership is effective if it's producing good fruit in others around you. You can build an empire, but if it's built on sand and a house of cards then it will come crashing down at some point. Focus on good fruit. I had to realize that what I had been building the last 10 + years was stripped away from me, and what was going to last? Who I had built into- that's what would last.
10. Faithfulness and stewardship is the measure of ultimate success. Stewardship of what is put in front of me. I can let go of Catalyst now with hands open because it’s not mine anyway, and I stewarded it the best I knew how during my season of assignment. Hopefully assignment well done. Now onto the next assignment.
Not sure what that is yet, but right now I’m speaking a ton, finishing up my 2nd book, and also consulting with a handful of organizations, and still an advisor to Catalyst. I guess you could say I'm a professional friend and advisor for this season. Not sure how long it will last, but enjoying every second of it.
I'm committed to leveraging my experience and equity and wisdom for what is next. And not to settle for the easy. I'm really being challenged to do something that is outside my comfort zone.
But right now, I'm proud to look back over the last year, and see a transition that has occurred in a healthy and correct way.
I'm able to help at Catalyst and be an advisor and not in any way for that to feel weird or for me to want to jump back in and be in charge and take over. Part of the reason for I believe a fairly reasonable transition was that there was a point where I killed "Catalyst Brad." He was put out of his misery. Dying to this season means I’m giving up that title and that business card intro. A title that has been what I've done for the last 10 + years. Moving forward I have to say that I led Catalyst for 10 years and am done.
So many transitions and successions happen from one leader to the other without the outgoing leader ever truly releasing that season. So they either try and jump back in at every turn, or just spend all their time bad mouthing and sabotaging their replacement because they’re deep down concerned that someone else is going to be better at the role than they were. Hopefully I’m not doing this.
Step out before you need to. Go out on top. Hand off way before it’s time.
Now onto the next season!
Whether you are a seasoned leader, college student, author, professor, CEO, politician, or pastor, we all have to learn to communicate well. Whether we are speaking to thousands, speaking to our staff, giving a report, making a speech, teaching your kids soccer team, or addressing your company, it's imperative as leaders we know how to communicate. To make our point. To deliver a message. And communicating is much easier said than done. Actually it's the saying part and the doing part that make it difficult.
So here are some tips that might make communicating a bit easier for you and a bit more enjoyable for those listening. To make it stick.
1. Keep it Simple. Stay focused on a few key points. And use common sense. If it sounds confusing, it probably is. If it sounds cheesy, it probably is.
2. Tell great stories to validate your points. Unless you are just an amazing communicator, your points probably won't hold me. So sprinkle in some great stories, good analogies, personal connections, and current events.
3. Inspire action. Push me towards doing something, not just hearing something.
4. Know your audience. Seems simple, but many miss this one. Make constant connections to your audience. If you're talking to a group of high school students, don't use the same jokes and intro as you did with the local Lions Club mens pancake breakfast the day before.
5. Create hooks, repetitions, and memorable phrases. I won't remember all you said, but I might remember something you said. Our current culture is now built around soundbytes- status updates, tweets, texts, etc. So keep it simple, but also keep it short.
6. Connect personally. Look people in the eye. Recognize individuals in the audience and mention their name. Find people in the crowd and speak directly to them. Make eye contact with the entire room, from side to side. If your audience thinks you care about them, then they'll care about what you are saying.
7. Be authentic, vulnerable, and funny. The key is to just simply be you. Allow the audience to get to know you. Make yourself vulnerable by talking about a failure or something that gives you instant connection. Be funny and find ways to keep your content light and humorous.
8. Land the plane on time. Not just ending on time, but actually ending with the right timing. Don't keep circling above the runway- land it now.
What other tips would you add for communicating well?
Here you go, the September edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's editions here. 1. Journey Smollett-Bell- LA based actress, best known for playing Jess on the hit show Friday Night Lights.
3. Trevor Knight- current quarterback of my beloved Oklahoma Sooners!
5. Jeremy Walls- SVP and Chief Revenue Officer for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.
6. Noah Gundersen- Seattle based singer/songwriter.
Here you go, the August edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here. 1. Andy Mineo- NYC based hip hop artist, songwriter, producer and performer; part of the Reach Records family.
Todd Adkins is the Director of Leadership at LifeWay, and heads up the Ministry Grid team. Todd's goal, with the rest of the Ministry Grid team, is to provide churches a tool to assist them in training leaders and volunteers at every level from the parking lot to the pulpit. _________________________________________________________
6 Ways To Lead Staff You Don't Like
Some of you will be deeply offended and leave this post right after the next sentence. While you should love everyone on your staff, it’s ok if you like some people more.
In fact, its important for you to realize that you are eventually going to end up with someone on your team that you don’t really like. I am not talking about someone who is downright toxic to your culture, those people should be removed from your organization. I am speaking of someone who adds value to your work and team but there’s something about their personality that rubs you the wrong way.
When push comes to shove you are a leader and you are going to have make some adjustments so that your team can continue to function at a high level.
Here are six ways you can lead staff members you don't like.
1. First, identify what is YOUR problem?
If their performance is satisfactory this is really your issue after all. You owe it to yourself and to them to take a good hard look at what it is that you find so irritating. Are they too negative, too obsessed with a hobby, or they are too aggressive? Is it something superficial? While you cant change a staff members personality, mannerisms, or modus operandi you can choose to change your attitude and how you interact with them. If you don't it is only a matter of time before it becomes apparent to them or the rest of your team.
2. You don't have to be personal friends with all of your staff.
There is a natural expectation of separation between work life and personal life in the business world but the lines are much more fuzzy in the church. The smaller the staff the fuzzier it gets. Be sure you manage expectations and establish healthy boundaries when bringing new people on board.
3. Be professional and courteous with them.
The key here is to remembering to be professional and treat them how you would want to be treated. Take a genuine interest in them and margin time for them. Make a conscious effort to engage them in conversation about their life outside of the organization.
4. Knock out a big project shoulder to shoulder.
It gets much harder not to like somebody if you have worked hard side by side to achieve something great. I would also remind you that taking on something particularly difficult together can have an even greater effect. This is much more risky, however, as pressure may also further exacerbate the problem.
5. Don't make them an inside joke.
If this person has a quirk, mannerism, habit, etc. that is bothersome or downright annoying do not share it with other employees. Just because its funny doesn’t mean you have to share it. It is not funny and will ultimately undermine your leadership with your team. If you have a team like mine there are no holds barred and everyone and everything is fair game…but that’s another post.
6. Focus on their value to the team.
At the end of the day, you have obviously already decided that this employee is adding enough value to keep around so focus on what makes them so valuable to the team.
Todd Adkins is the Director of Leadership at Lifeway Christian Resources. He is passionate about the development of leaders, especially within the church. Todd served in student ministry and as an executive pastor for several years before joining the leadership at Lifeway to head up Ministry Grid, Lifeway's dynamic new leadership development platform featuring over 3,700 videos and a fully customizable learning management system for churches. Todd's goal, with the rest of the Ministry Grid team, is to provide churches a tool to assist them in training leaders and volunteers at every level from the parking lot to the pulpit. You can follow him on Twitter @ToddAdkins.
Most of us dread the weekly staff meeting. "Just get me out of there asap so I can get back to actually doing the work and making things happen" is the attitude many of us have. I know from experience.... Reality is, most staff meetings are boring, monotonous, just one person blabbing, and ultimately a waste of time.
When I was leading Catalyst day to day, I'm not sure I would have wanted to attend the staff meetings I was leading. Lots of times they were boring, awkward, and not very inspiring. It's one of the things I look back on and would definitely give myself a failing grade in.
So after some time to think how I would have created these differently, here are a few thoughts:
1. Let team members tell stories of impact, change, and specific ways they (and you and we) are all accomplishing the mission and vision of the organization, church, non profit or whatever environment you are in.
2. Bring in guest speakers. Whether from the community, other churches, other businesses, locally, or from around the country. Even if just getting people on Skype or on the phone- doesn't have to be in person. I missed it on this one. With all the relationships Catalyst has, I could have lined up guest speakers for months!
3. Create a regular pattern of reading through a book, studying a curriculum, or topically working through Scripture. Make sure you are all doing it together over a 8-12 week period. This allows everyone to have something to work on and also allows everyone to bring thoughts to share to the staff meeting.
4. Allow everyone to brag on each other. This is crucial. A time of letting staff share about other staff. Peer recognition, not just leader recognition. Something they saw or know that other staff members did that they should be acknowledged for, but probably won't be because it wasn't in the "spotlight." Let the team humble brag about one another. And you as the leader have to lead out on this. Hand out ego biscuits on a regular basis!!
5. Have different team members lead the staff meetings every week or every other week. That way different people feel the responsibility and pressure to bring it and make it awesome. Let them shape it however they want. And with each different staff member leading, part of their responsibility is to share their own personal story in front of the team. This allows for relational equity to be built big time.
6. Focus on a specific leadership topic or area of personal growth that the team is dialed into on a weekly basis and working to improve in. And instead of just sharing information, focus on actually solving a leadership problem that currently exists.
7. Return constantly to your mission, vision and core values. Remind everyone of these on a weekly basis. And as the leader, let your personality shine through in the context of WHY you all are doing what you are doing. Give context for the WHY, not just the WHAT.
8. Create Weekly contests. The weekly staff meeting is a launch for a competition, contest, or game for that particular week- in terms of either individual competition or group contests. Can be goofy and fun, or actually more serious tied to team or individual goals.
9. Provide food. Whether it's brought in or cooked on the spot. Food makes the meeting feel more like a meal, and anytime you are gathering around a meal, more good things happen.
10. Watch or listen to sermons, talks, leadership lessons from other leaders and pastors. Can be really inspiring and a great way to create conversation around a certain leadership topic or theme.
11. Celebrate! This is so crucial, and something I always forgot to do. Make the staff meeting a time to celebrate what happened the previous week, that month, or even that year. Teams needs to know they are winning, and moving in the right direction. Your job as the leader is to inspire, and make sure people see that you are actually moving from point A to point B.
What have you found to be helpful in making staff meetings a better experience?
Here you go, a brand new July edition of the YOUNG INFLUENCERS LIST. You can see all the past months lists here. 1. Sarah Dubbeldam - owner and Editor in chief of Darling Magazine, a great lifestyle magazine for women.
Building a bridge is an art. Not literal bridges that you drive over, although those are incredibly important.... I'm referring to building bridges in business, friendships, co-workers, mentors, and key partnerships. I'm referring to building a new relationship with your neighbor. I'm referring to connecting with someone that you've wanted to meet with for a long time and only having 15 minutes for a meeting. How do you turn that meeting into an hour or more, and then eventually into a friend?
Many folks just think that showing up is half the battle. Well, sort of. But there's more. When it comes to winning a client, or inking a new partnership, or developing a new friendship, there are some key things I've learned over the years that might be helpful.
A few thoughts:
1. Love people until they ask why. Let your actions speak so loud that people can not help but pay attention. Let them see your authenticity, and ultimately demand an explanation for the reason you do what you do.
2. Prove your craft before asking for something. Excellence, skill and know how is key on this. Show that you are competent before you demand that they should partner with you.
3. Ask more questions than they do. I love this one. Many times asking great questions is way more strategic than giving great answers.
4. Spend lots of time listening. Once you've asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And listen more.
5. Find points of connection and shared interests, and be intentional. A crucial part of great bridge building. Find out what motivates someone, what their interests are, what they enjoy. Is it sports? rock climbing? history? Whatever it is, find out and then build on those areas of shared interests.
6. Connect them to others. Great connectors and bridge builders are always figuring out ways to introduce their friends within their circle. Claire at Twitter does this amazingly well. And here's the key on this- the ultimate value for the connection is not for you, it's more for others.
7. Follow up. This is the #1 step that everyone seems to forget. We have to follow up. Never assume that because you haven't heard from someone, it means they are not interested. They're busy, just like you. Take the first step and reach out. And then reach out again. And then again.
We always have a bunch of interns at Catalyst. And most folks on the Catalyst team have cut their teeth in their "first job" here at Catalyst. They are all really talented, really sharp, and really hungry to learn. Having young early 20 somethings around reminds me of the days when I started my first "real" job just after college. And while that wasn't that long ago, I feel like there are a few things I've learned since then that might be good reminders for recent college graduates, or those just entering the "workforce."
1. Show up on time (early). As I tell our team all the time: If you are on time, you're late. If you are early, you're on time.
2. Always have something to write with and write on. This is crucial. Don't go strolling off to a meeting without pen and paper, unless you are planning to take notes on your phone, on your iPad, or on your laptop.
3. Be informed. Regardless of what you are doing, be informed before you get there- whether that's a new job, or a meeting, or a lunch appointment. Do some research and show up educated about the topic, about the person, or about the context.
4. Be intentional. Start your first day by asking great questions and being inquisitive.
5. Request the tough assignments. Take initiative and request the tough assignment that no one else really wants. Not as a brown noser, but as a go getter.
6. Relentlessly get things done. When given responsibility and a task to get done, make it happen and try your best to get it done early. Then anticipate what else needs to get done beyond what you were assigned, and get that done. Under promise and over deliver.
7. Remember names. If you are new in a large office with hundreds of staff, this one can be especially difficult. But it's your responsibility. Know everyone by their first and last name within your first week. If that means studying the staff directory at night, so be it.
8. Know what your leader/boss appreciates. If your boss appreciates humor, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates staying late, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates constant feedback, lean into that. If your boss appreciates Chipotle, lean heavily into that....!!
9. Figure out the team culture, embrace it, and add to it. Our team culture at Catalyst includes several key elements- food, hard work, loud, fun, young, etc. Whatever the key elements of a team culture where you are coming in as the newbie, try to add to it. So, for example, if your team's culture is built around food, then add to that and bring in some snacks without being asked. If it's celebration, then add a new way to celebrate. If it's being loud, add a new loud instrument to the team breakroom.
Being a leader doesn’t exempt you from being a good employee. Matter of fact, as leaders, we should strive to be the best in all we do, not just being “good” or “better.” “Good” is doing what is expected of you. This typically falls in the slightly above-average range and is relatively easy to achieve with a bit of focus and determination. “Better" is rising a little higher than good and typically means you are comparing yourself to the next one in line.
But best is where you should want to live. It is greatness and doesn’t mean you are better than everyone else but that you’re working to your maximum capability.
Whether the one in charge, or just simply part of the team, our goal should be to create an environment that thrives on excellence and always strives to be the best.
This can be a challenge but I’ve discovered 10 ways to be the best employee there is:
1. Write everything down. Never show up to a meeting without something to write with and something to write on. And write it down. Everything. Otherwise you'll forget. I don't care who you are.
2. Honor people's time. Show up early and finish on time.
3. Come with solutions, not just ideas. This is crucial. Move towards completion, not away from it. Ideas are great, but always have to lead towards the finish line.
4. Learn how to anticipate. Be one step ahead. Do something every day you weren't "asked" or "told" to do, but know you should do.
5. Be a disciplined learner. Understand it is your role to be an expert, no matter what level or role you play in an organization. Don't just be one step ahead of your boss in being skilled at your job .... be an expert.
6. Listen well. Listen when in a conversation; don't just think about what you are going to say in response. Listen for next steps, not current realities- this has to do with anticipating.
7. Reflect most of the credit; take all the blame. This is more for leaders, but still a great principle to put into practice no matter what level you are in the organization. Be a reflector of praise, not an absorber. Absorb the blame if at all possible.
8. Never speak negatively of your peers for personal gain. This is a hard one for everyone, especially when your boss or superior wants to pit you against that peer and see how you respond. Don't give in to that. Stay above it.
9. Push back. Almost every organizational leader I know wants their team members to challenge the process, question assumptions, bring new ideas to the table, and push back when they don't agree. Don't be afraid to do this. If your leader is not mature enough to take this, then they probably shouldn't be in the position they are in. If unsure on whether you truly have "permission" to push back, ask for permission on the front end.
10. Take on more responsibility. Ask for more power and involvement, and you'll be lifting the load of your employer or boss. That is always a welcomed conversation. Always. Help by taking on more.
Hey friends! Today only- The Catalyst Leader book Kindle version is available for $2.99 on Amazon.
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Buy one for yourself and one for a friend to pass on.
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This is such a great deal!
Thanks for the support! And thanks to our friends at Amazon for making this possible.
Here you go, the June Edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all of the past month's lists here.
7. Daniel Sturridge- professional soccer player for Liverpool and the England national team.
I have great respect for professional baseball players; they are anything but wimpy. To stand in front of home plate with a ball heading toward your head at 95 miles per hour with nothing but a piece of wood to bat it away takes guts. Life and leadership are a lot like baseball. Even the best batters strike out sometimes. But a true athlete, and courageous leaders, can never run away from the pitch.
I may not play baseball, but I do snow ski, and the analogy is much the same. The first time I faced the challenge of a mogul run on a black diamond slope that was steep and overwhelming, it was tough for me to muster the energy to get down the mountain. While gazing over the steep side from the top of the run, my friend’s advice was, “Point your skis down the hill and keep your nose over your tips. You have to lean forward and over your ski tips. Even when you are overcome with fright, maintain a posture of nose over tips, rather than leaning back.” In essence: lean back and you fall.
This is not only great advice for skiing steep slopes but also good advice for leadership. As a leader, you sit atop the mountain. You have no choice but to face the slopes. You can lean back, coast, and play it safe, snowplowing your way painfully back and forth across the mountain, or you can point you skis down the hill, nose over the tips, and dominate the run. Being a courageous leader requires you to push beyond the norm, be willing to take risks and quit being a wimp.
Courage is not an individual trait but an organizational one. It’s a natural instinct that all leaders confront fear of failure and fear of the unknown. But living in that fear is destructive for a team and will kill momentum.
Courage is not waiting for your fear to go away; it is confronting your fear head-on.
Through working with young leaders around the nation, I have found six essentials that can help build a culture of courage in an organization:
1) Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product, service or experience should be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.
2) Allow for failure. The road to success is many times paved through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.
3) Make decisions. Don’t let ideas, strategy, communication, and important organizational markers sit idly by on the side without saying yes or no. Leaders are decision makers, and must do it constantly.
4) Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.
5) Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.
6) Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead. Early and often.
These elements aren’t easy to nurture in a corporate setting. You and your colleagues will likely resist it at every turn. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die.” Courage mingles our desire to rush forward with a willingness to accept the possibility of being stopped in our tracks.
Yet if you desire to be a leader who changes the world, you have no choice but to exhibit courage on a constant basis.
The good news is that unlike some leadership traits, courage is not inborn; it’s learned. The natural response is to run from what frightens us, but life’s greatest leaps occur when we resist this impulse.
Remember when you were completely fearless as a kid? Children often demonstrate courage naturally. Most of us can think back to times as a child when we stepped out in courage. Whether riding a bike without training wheels, jumping into the deep end of the pool, or letting go of the rails to ice-skate without assistance, life teaches us that progress requires courage. We have to be willing to get out to the edge, look at what is in the front of us, summon up the fortitude, and jump.
The jump may be risky, but the decision to stay where you are is even more so.
Young leaders are the future. They actually are the present as well. Lots of leaders ask me how best to lead the millennial generation, basically those born after 1980. We gather thousands of leaders who fit this category on an annual basis, and most of the Catalyst staff are under the age of 30. I have the privilege to get to hang out with 20-somethings a lot, and I've noticed some things very particular to this generation. I have to admit- I don't always get this right. As a 100% Gen X'er, my tendency is to lean away from several of these points, and lead how I've been led over the years by Boomer and Busters. But I'm working on it....
So with that said, here you go, 20 keys for leading 20-somethings on your team:
1. Give them freedom with their schedule. I'll admit, this one is tough for me.
2. Provide them projects, not a career. Career is just not the same anymore. They desire options. Just like free agents.
3. Create a family environment. Work, family and social are all intertwined, so make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. Everything is connected.
4. Cause is important. Tie in compassion and justice to the "normal." Causes and opportunities to give back are important.
5. Embrace social media. it's here to stay.
6. They are more tech savvy than any other generation ever. Technology is the norm. XBOX, iPhones, laptops, iPads are just normal. If you want a response, text first, then call. Or DM first. Or send a Facebook message. Not anti calls though.
7. Lead each person uniquely. Don't create standards or rules that apply to everyone. Customize your approach. (I'll admit, this one is difficult too!)
8. Make authenticity and honesty the standard for your corporate culture. Millenials are cynical at their core, and don't trust someone just because they are in charge.
9. Millenials are not as interested in "climbing the corporate ladder." But instead more concerned about making a difference and leaving their mark.
10. Give them opportunities early with major responsibility. They don't want to wait their turn. Want to make a difference now. And will find an outlet for influence and responsibility somewhere else if you don't give it to them. Empower them early and often.
11. All about the larger win, not the personal small gain. Young leaders in general have an abundance mentality instead of scarcity mentality.
12. Partnering and collaboration are important. Not interested in drawing lines. Collaboration is the new currency, along with generosity.
13. Not about working for a personality. Not interested in laboring long hours to build a temporal kingdom for one person. But will work their guts out for a cause and vision bigger than themselves.
14. Deeply desire mentoring, learning and discipleship. Many older leaders think millenials aren't interested in generational wisdom transfer. Not true at all. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship, so build it into your organizational environment.
15. Coach them and encourage them. They want to gain wisdom through experience. Come alongside them don't just tell them what to do.
16. Create opportunities for quality time- individually and corporately. They want to be led by example, and not just by words.
17. Hold them accountable. They want to be held accountable by those who are living it out. Measure them and give them constant feedback.
18. They've been exposed to just about everything, so the sky is the limit in their minds. Older leaders have to understand younger leaders have a much broader and global perspective, which makes wowing Millenials much more difficult.
19. Recognize their values, not just their strengths. It ain't just about the skillz baby. Don't use them without truly knowing them.
20. Provide a system that creates stability. Clear expectations with the freedom to succeed, and providing stability on the emotional, financial, and organizational side.
4. Greg Jennings- pro bowl wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, formerly with the Green Bay Packers (and Super Bowl Champion).
7. Jonas Myrin- Grammy winning songwriter and artist from Sweden.
1. Flexibility with accountability. Every 20 something I know wants to have flexible hours and work schedules, but you can only create this effectively if you have true accountability in place. Results have to accompany convenience, otherwise you're just creating a perk with no tie back to moving the organization forward. 2. Responsibility with authority. Most of the time we just give responsibility to young leaders, without the authority. Try at all intersections to provide both at the same time. Be smart on this, but make efforts to give the project completely to them with as much authority and decision making power as possible.
3. Family environment. Make your office feel like a home, complete with as close to a living room, kitchen, and den as possible. Community and connectivity is vital for younger leaders, and a great place to provide that is in the office and work environment.
4. Customized Leadership strucutre. Creating a cookie cutter organizational structure and team dynamic tends to turn away younger leaders. All rules don't apply to all team members, so don't let an easier approach of blanket rules and staff handbooks that everyone has to follow even though it doesn't make sense be the foundation of your culture. Every employee and team member wants to be seen as important and crucial to the success of the organization, and small things that seem small to you as the leader will be a big deal to team members.
5. Compelling vision with clear sense of target and win. Make the vision significant and epic. While also defining very clearly what the wins look like. Create a vision that everyone on the team can rally around.
I love leaders who execute. Leaders who get it done.
Leaders who can take a project across the finish line.
Great Leaders are Great finishers.
When it comes to hiring new employees, no other characteristic is more important than someone who can finish. It is the #1 trait related to work ethic that I look for in a new hire.
Anyone can come up with a new idea, a new concept, a new pithy word, a new organization, or a new perspective. This is a bit overrated in the leadership landscape.
What ultimately matters is whether you can take an idea from concept to completion. This is the secret sauce. The differentiator. And to do that, you have to be a finisher.
And you have to have finishers on your team. The folks who are intrinsically wired to make things happen, and bulldog their way to the finish line. They find joy in checking things off the list. But not just a task machine. Anyone can take an order and then go complete it. What matters is whether you can carry the ball all the way down the field and actually cross the finish line.
Take a moment and think about who that is on your team. If you don't have someone in this role, go find them immediately. This is incredibly important if you are the leader- you have to have someone on your team in whom you have ultimate confidence that if you hand them a project, they will get it done... and without your constant management of them. The answer can't constantly be "we're still working on it....". That is an excuse for either being lazy or unfocused. You're either moving forward or backwards.
And for every organization, it is imperative that everyone plays the finisher role. Including you as the leader. CEO's, creative directors, marketing VP's, Executive producers, and Discipleship pastors- all have to be able to get it done, to make it happen. Now some have to execute more than others, but no one can only be the "idea" person. Everyone is required to execute and own projects from start to finish. It's a non-negotiable.
From my time at Catalyst, one thing we always take incredible pride in is being able to take a concept and turn it into a finished project. This is a distinctive part of our culture here. We're serious about it. It's part of our DNA.
Be a finisher!
Leading is not easy. And it's even more difficult if those on your team aren't equipped well to follow. We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.
And especially relevant to young leaders, many of whom are working for leaders who are older than them.
Here are some ways to honor your leaders:
1. Pray - a huge one. Pray for wisdom, for clarity, for compassion and for a clear vision for your leader and leaders.
2. Encourage- lift your leaders up in public, and critique them in private. Tell them how you appreciate them. Consistently. Write them a note. Pour into them.
3. Confront- if you see something out of whack, tell them. Most leaders crave input and feedback, so give it to them. Push back on their ideas and convictions when appropriate. Confrontation works best though when encouragement and service and trust have been given freely for a long time. Confront in moderation.
4. Serve- be willing to carry the load. Get things done. Deliver more than you were asked to do. Be action oriented. Anticipating is a great way to honor. Figure out what needs to get done before your leader has to tell you.
5. Trust- incredibly important. Follow them. Put stock in the fact that they have your best interests in mind. Fight against sarcasm and cynicism.
6. Understand- know what drives them, what motivates them, and also what frustrates them. Lean into the things that motivate them, and avoid the things that frustrate them.
7. Protect- always have their back. Stand up for them. If you hear something negative, fight it. Sometimes we actually find misguided joy in ganging up on our leaders in order to make ourselves look and feel better. Avoid this.
8. Release- give your leader permission to lead you. Lean in. Have a posture of humility, respect, and openness to follow them. Open hearts and open minds, vs closed thoughts, arms crossed, and a made up mind.