I am a huge football fan and love my Tennessee Titans and Volunteers. This week we found out that the Titans are naming their young second year quarterback Jake Locker as their starting QB. Jake is young with tons of potential and now this is his time to lead the team. There is a lingering question floating around with fans right now…is he too young? Does he need to wait? These are valid questions but at some point this young quarterback has to be given the chance to lead and prove himself. I know none of us are general managers of an NFL franchise but even in our organizations young leaders need a chance to shine. Young leaders are most effective when they are set up to succeed. Yes, there are things you can do to help the next generation of leaders to have better chance of making a difference. Here are a few ways to set young leaders up for success…
1. Never leave them on an island // isolation leads to mistakes and frustration. Young leaders need to know they are part of a team and there are others they can come to for advice and clarity. Leaders who have proper support learn quickly and lead with confidence.
2. Allow mistakes to happen and embrace teachable moments // we all learn from mistakes but many times young leaders need help framing how the mistake impacts the organization. Young leaders need freedom to make mistakes with help from others to help place mistakes in perspective.
3. Provide consistent feedback // we all need feedback but young leaders need it more frequently. Consistent feedback keeps everyone on track and fuels improvement.
4. Define clear expectations // young leaders have to know what you want from them. What are your expectations. You will never be able to hold anyone to expectations they do not understand. Make sure you set the bar in a way that young leaders can embrace and work toward.
5. Push for excellence and celebrate wins consistently // demand hard work and consistently celebrate wins. Look for wins everywhere. Celebrate wins even in the middle of hard times. Young leaders need to know what is celebrated in your organization because that is what will be repeated.