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7 Things Next Generation Leaders Want From Senior Leaders

Up until about two months ago, I had become a professional intern. With four separate internships under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two about what high-level leaders need to know about us young, passionate guys on a mission to “save the world.”

So if you’re a leader and you’ve got a few girls or guys coming under your leadership, and you hope they come out a little better on the other side, here are few things you need to know.

  • Tell me you believe in me. This seems so basic, but so many leaders miss it. Yes, we know the internship or the job or the opportunity or the gig is a big deal and that we wouldn’t have gotten it if you didn’t believe in us—but hearing it after a successful task (or even a missed opportunity) will remind us that we have your support.
  • Be available. Please don’t tell me you hope to get coffee with me to hear about what I’m learning or what my goals are and then not make time for me on your schedule. If your “investment” into me looks more like an escape route to menial tasks you’d rather not deal with, then you are missing the point of leadership development and discipleship.
  • Give me real opportunity. Let me lead a campaign, preach on a busy Sunday, champion an event or promote an initiative. And when you let me do it, don’t micromanage all the details. Trust me to do the job whether it works or not. Which leads me to my next point:
  • Let me fail. That campaign I led? The sermon I preached? The event I was in charge of? If I failed (and I will, eventually), help me figure out what I can do to be better next time. Just because it wasn’t perfect doesn’t mean it was useless.
  • We aren’t all stereotypes. Please don’t make assumptions about me because of what other young leaders do. Just because they sleep in until 11 doesn’t mean I will. Just because they have certain tendencies doesn’t mean I do. Give me the opportunity to show you who I am before you put me into the box of society’s stereotypes.
  • Ask me hard questions. But don’t just ask—care. Ask me about my budget, and then show me how to make it better. Ask me about my relationship and how you can pray for it. Ask me if I’m accountable to my schedule and if I’m making good choices. You may think I don’t want it, but I need you to ask and I want to know you care.
  • Do life with me. I need to witness how you interact with your family, your friends and other leaders. Watching you lead your family or laughing over a football game will be far more beneficial for me than you handing me a book and telling to write a five-point summary.

Just remember, you were just like us at one point in your life. What made you successful and worked for you may not be the answer for us. Work with us and ask us what we need and how we learn.

We’ve had plenty of folks tell us we are going far, now we need you to help us get there.  

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Eight years of customer service experience with Chick-fil-A, a large following on social media and six years of communicating to thousands of young people across the Southeast, Jake is passionate about helping leaders make an impact through authentic community and inspired collaboration. He is Co-Founder and Storyteller of HiveATL; a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Ga. and serves as the Director of Events and Experiences at ROAM Atlanta. Jake spent 2013 in a Community Development role with ‘The Rocket Company,’ which found itself at #602 on the 2013 INC 5000 list. He’s 26, lives in Marietta, Ga, and chops hard for the Atlanta Braves. Jake is also a staff writer and Senior Counsel Member for Bedlam Magazine.