Thoughts from a Young Leader

As a millennial, I love to read about leadership. I love learning different leadership styles, hearing from different leadership gurus (Some personal favorites at this time: Cy Wakeman, No Ego; any blog post by Scott Mautz, and Art Barter’s webinars).

However, I am not yet a leader.

Well, not exactly.

I have not been given a title. I don’t manage a team. I don’t have any mentees.

By the normal understanding of being a “leader,” I don’t fit the mold.

But if I have learned anything from managing this blog over the past 6 months, it is that leadership is all about not only breaking the mold but creating your own mold that works for you and the people you influence.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the editor of Lead Change. This means I work with our authors to schedule, edit, and promote their content. I manage all aspects of the site and the community surrounding it. I also manage and create our monthly newsletter and the Leadership Development Carnival.

While I am sure that one day in my professional career I will have a title, I will be entrusted with others to guide, and I will influence a mentee or two. But for now, I am working on perfecting leading by example.

Below are 5 lessons I have learned in the first year of my professional career.

Raise your hand when no one else will. We all know that awkward moment in a meeting when the boss looks around the table (or the computer screen) and hopes that someone will volunteer for the bland unexciting task that someone HAS to do, but no one wants to do.

This is the moment when you step up. Not only will your manager be extremely thankful for the end to the awkward silence, but your coworkers will see another team member take initiative and put the needs of the organization above their own pride.

Share Opportunities. Have you ever been asked to be on a project that you know is a great opportunity, but in the back of your mind you know that someone else on the team would do a MUCH better job at it than you? Bring light to this. Don’t just flippantly say, “Well Casey would do that better than me.” Instead, say, “You know, this is really Casey’s area of expertise. Would it be acceptable if she could team up with me on this so that I can learn from her?”

Break out of Your Comfort Zone. I am NOT a writer. I am, however, really good at editing other writers’ work and scheduling (hence the editing gig). So, writing posts is not going to be a regular thing for me anytime soon. However, I try to keep doing random tasks that I would not normally do that make me feel uncomfortable to keep me on my toes and strengthen my creativity.

Speak Up. Just because you don’t have a “title,” doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t important. Your boss hired you for a reason. If they are a good boss, then they hired you for more than just taking orders. If it is not the norm in your organization to share new ideas, raise this concern to a manager that can help you start to change that culture.

Keep Moving Forward. Never get too comfortable in the position you are in. One of the reasons I have grown so much in the past year at Weaving Influence is because I was fluid in my abilities and willing to move around to where I was most needed. Always set up a position in a way that you could pass it on to your replacement tomorrow. The days of “securing your job” are over. What companies need now is people who are willing to adapt and grow to the next task needed.

When I was in middle school, one of my teachers told our class to prepare ourselves for jobs that don’t exist yet. Of course, 10-year-old me had no idea what she was talking about. Now, I have a career in a field that had barely been created eleven years ago. Focus on your tasks for today, with the mindset that they will prepare you for change tomorrow.

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