We’ve spoken at length about the importance of mature professionals in the workforce. Part of the reason their years of knowledge and experience can be so valuable is that they can then help shape the talent of a new generation. Much has been said about the lack of high-level experience within the younger generation of professionals and boomers can help to bridge that important gap. Along with mentoring the next generation, they can begin to recognize the talent among younger who can lead. Identifying leaders in the younger generation of professionals is a vital part in building the workforce for tomorrow. So how can you, as a manager or experienced professional, spot those talented individuals who possess the ability to lead? Here are some tips of what to watch for:
One of the most identifiable traits born leader possess is a view of the bigger picture. Among younger professionals (and not just younger professionals) there can be a tendency to focus on their own journey and tend to neglect their coworkers or their organization’s greater ambitions. Those who take the bigger picture into account tend to go further and a big part of how they do this is by engaging. They engage with coworkers, the engage with their leaders, and they engage with the organization as a whole. They do their job, but always keep in mind that there are many other moving parts to what they are a part of and being involved makes them more prepared to lead.
Failure doesn’t set them back.
We all stumble in our work to some degree or another. They can be small mistakes made throughout the day or a big misjudgement of your work that can be a more drastic failure. However, how me deal with those failures is indicative of who we are as professionals, and it is the leaders who fail and continue to move forward. Yes, there are some failures that need to be addressed in a more critical way, but largely, a failure is an opportunity to learn. Some people fear the failure to the point that it makes them fear trying anymore. Leaders fail, acknowledge the failure, examine the failure, learn from the failure and go try again. What makes these people good leaders is not only a willingness to take chances without fear of failure, but also an ability to encourage their employees to recover from their own failures.
They allow patience in their work.
The younger generation is sometimes criticized for, what some perceive to be, a lack of drive in their work. I consider this to be an unfair generalization of an entire generation (similar to many unfair rumours about boomers). However, what can sometimes be an issue with younger professionals is being too consumed with getting the tasks done, that they don’t allow patience to enter into their working habits. Efficiency with work is not the same as getting things done as quickly as possible. It means having all the facts and information necessary to ensure that the work presented is the best possible representation of what you can do. Allowing patience in your work and the work of those around you can lead to overall improvement within the organization.
No fear in being open.
What is the single most important thing for a successful workplace? That’s correct, it’s communication. And how you can identify an individual’s willingness to communicate and acknowledging the importance of communication is openness. This can be difficult for a lot of people, and it’s another thing that some people fear. But openness is necessary when you are a part of a community that relies on sharing. This could be sharing ideas, sharing experience, sharing opinions – all of which make for a stronger workforce. Keeping an open mind to the way others approach the work as well as being able to share your own thoughts makes for a collaborative leader who can get the best out of those around them.
An ability to adapt to new situations.
New situations are a fantastic indicator of above-the-line talent. In all honesty, these scenarios are no easy for anyone. No matter how much experience you might have in a position, chances are you will be met at some point with something you’ve never had to deal with before. Some back down from the challenge, others are too thrown off by it to effectively deal with it. A leader is able to adapt to the situation. They don’t complain about why thigs have changed, they don’t get stubborn and try to stick to what’s worked with them before. They accept that new approaches are necessary to grow as a professional, and they remain undaunted when met with these new challenges. It’s important that a leader is someone others can look to as an example when the way forward isn’t always clear.