Just this week I was meeting with a current government customer in the Atlanta area. I told them that I had been doing what I do for 17 years. They said – what did you do, start when you were 10? Just about the 1 millionth time I have heard that line, but I have to admit that people are saying it less and less due to my hair turning a different shade (wife says it is awesome, but I have not bought in). This kind of comment usually comes towards the end of the meeting and they mean it as a complement, which is the way I take it.
So getting to the point of reflection……..Our team at MCCi does a tremendous job serving our customers, which is paramount to our growth; The growth and great service seems to throw customers for a loop due to their initial assumptions about my age. The reality is that most of the Leadership attributes to live by are common sense and not age related. Leadership requires discipline, not years under your belt. Experience does help you refine your leadership skills, but my message to the younger generations is don’t wait to lead! You have to lead every day to eventually be thought of as a leader. Your actions and not your age are what will label you as a leader in the eyes of others (and how others see you is what matters in leadership). In closing, here is what leaders do regardless of age:
- They properly set expectations with all stakeholders
- They do not prematurely react due to emotions
- They work hard and can never be called a hypocrite
- They are responsive and can be counted on by all
- They are proactive and thorough
- They hold themselves accountable to be better every day – they don’t really need a “manager”. Do you need a manager to do what is expected of you?
- They are liked/loved by team members, peers, and all stakeholders. Not because of popularity, but because of action from doing all the above. It is a bunch of garbage to say one does not need to be liked by others….
- They do not cause or condone drama
- They admit their mistakes and are never defensive
- They are rational about everything and can eloquently bring others into their way of thinking (only because they are indeed rational, smart, and well planned).
- They are compassionate and have empathy – they always do “what is right”
Don’t wait to lead. You can start in middle school, high school, or even earlier. While I was a late bloomer (and still a work in progress), you can do better and should start now! You are not going to wake up at 40 and all the sudden deserve to be a leader.