Many of most innovative business leaders of today took chances and made leaps into leadership positions early in their careers. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, first thought of the idea when he was just 30 years old, CNBC reports. Brian Chesky was 27 when we founded Airbnb and Steve Jobs was 25 when Apple went public, according to Forbes.
While young leaders may lack experience, they possess several characteristics that may benefit the overall organization as well as inspire colleagues. A 2015 study by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman found that younger managers (under 30) ranked more positively on all 49 leadership behaviors as compared to older managers (45 and older), according to a discussion of their results in the Harvard Business Review.
“This is both surprising and excellent news that indicates there are talented young leaders in our organizations who will be capable of stepping into key roles,” Folkman explained in a Forbes article.
The study revealed a few key areas where younger managers excelled. Here’s what they found:
- Young leaders tend to embrace change, which also means they typically have a lot of ideas and are more optimistic about change compared to older managers.
- Young leaders are skilled at inspiring employees and getting them excited about accomplishing objectives. They lead by “pulling” compared to older workers, who lead by “pushing.” This type of behavior allows for a great degree of inspiration when compared to more experienced colleagues.
- Young leaders are open to receiving feedback and often ask for ways to implement what they are told, compared to older workers who are less likely to ask for feedback on job performance.
- Younger leaders are more likely to challenge the way things are done and push for improvement.
- Young leaders are results-driven and focus on the need to achieve their goals. Being newer to a professional can contract to the complacency that an older manager may have due to being there for a long time.
- Younger leaders are not afraid to tackle challenges and are more likely to develop ambitious goals as compared to seasoned colleagues.
As younger workers enter the workforce and Baby Boomers push off retirement, work environments are becoming more complex and multi-generational. Organizational leaders need to leverage the positive qualities of younger leaders by implementing leadership development and training programs to prepare the next generation for key roles in the near future.
Leadership Development Tips for Younger Workers
Younger workers who want to advance into leadership positions can learn from other trailblazers in business. According to a 2017 Forbes article, younger workers can do a few things to prepare for leadership roles:
Build a network of people who can offer professional advice and opportunities.
Enhance your non-verbal communication and listening skills so you can better understand what your employees need to be successful.
Invest in education to stay ahead of the curve. Professional certificates, undergraduate and graduate degrees can help professionals be better prepared to lead.
Create an organizational framework that helps you meet your goals and remain on task.
Be humble and open to feedback. As young workers will likely have less experience than older colleagues and direct reports, do not allow ego to get in the way of making a decision.