By Ian Clark via LinkedIn
Don’t see being young as an obstacle to establishing yourself as a figure of authority, but instead as an opportunity to be a new sort of leader, bringing a new perspective into the business.
Transitioning into a leadership role at a young age isn’t easy. Managing colleagues who are older and more experienced than you can be tricky. Earning their respect and pacifying any jealousy they feel are things you must address early on.
You only get one chance to make a great first impression, so you must demonstrate awareness and an understanding of the business and your role within it from the moment you arrive. This will go a long way to gaining the respect of others.
You can only learn so much from secondary research, however. In order to properly prepare for a leadership role you need at least some experience. Junior leadership roles that provide well for the demands of being a successful young professional include alumni associations, university/college societies, local charities and so on.
Be a breath of fresh air
From day 1, be clear on how you see the business progressing, which issues you see as key priorities and you intend to do first. Some colleagues may be cynical about your enthusiasm and feel that they have ‘heard it all before’. To tackle this, show respect for your colleagues’ ideas and encourage collaborative working.
Play out your arrival as a period of transition for the entire team, as opposed to a sudden period of drastic overhaul.
Communicate often, but listen more
In your first couple of months try to listen more than you talk. You will never know everything about a company or a job until you immerse yourself in it, particularly if you do not have experience on your side.
Listen to the challenges identified by others who have been in the business longer than you have – their expertise will be vital to your success.
Great business leaders remain successful decades on because they have remained curious. I’m thinking of people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, who are tireless in their hunt for the latest innovations in technology, ensuring their skills are always relevant.
Keep an eye out for developments that relate to your role. Knowledge of the latest trends can not only help your business grow, but will also help you be seen as a fountain of knowledge from which others can learn.
A final thought
The process of becoming a leader is one of organic growth that requires constant development, no matter what age you are. If you approach your new opportunity in the right way, you will soon see that you don’t need decades of experience to inspire and lead others. After all, age is only a number.