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10 Leadership Tips For The Young Generation

10 Leadership Tips For The Young Generation

Leadership is rarely an innate quality in us. It is a combination of hard work, conviction and instinctive strategy, which needs to be developed and nurtured. When you see someone naturally charismatic and inspiring, you are disregarding an immense amount of work that goes behind the scene. This is precisely the reason why we are witnessing an increasing demand for cultivating this talent at the earliest of ages. Be it in sports, business or entrepreneurship, today’s youth is striving to sow the seeds of leadership in lure of future success.

Without further adieu, here are ten tips for the younger generation to ponder.

1. It all starts with a vision

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell

The true essence of leadership begins with envisioning a set of goals. Don’t just have a vague image in your mind but define the target with focussed clarity. Think through the final result over and over to make sure you will be committed till the end.

But stating objectives is not enough. Enforcing the purpose and mission are equally important. Provide a clear and realistic path to your team. Believe in you and be persistent when things look difficult. Without John F Kennedy’s ambitious vision, Neil Armstrong would not be the first man on the moon. No dream is too big until you have realized it.

2. Communicate often and clearly

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell

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Communication is the fundamental link between vision and reality. Deliver the message concisely and with conviction so that it permeates through all levels of the organization. Your people need to understand why they are working on a task, what they should be doing and where it will lead them to. This entails having good presentation skills, being a good listener and facilitating problem solving. Effective communication skills make a standout leader.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of optimism

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. – Milton Berle.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership program organized by Walt Disney. My biggest takeaway was this remarkable story: It was 1928 in New York, when Walt learned that his distributor hired most of Disney’s animators to start a new studio. He practically lost everything, including his staff, the contract, his income and the hit character Oswald, the Rabbit. He immediately sent a telegram to his brother Roy saying, “Don’t worry. Everything okay. Will give details when I arrive”. On his three day journey back to Hollywood, Walt took out his sketchbook and created the character of Mickey Mouse. Within a year, Mickey was the most popular cartoon in the world.

Optimism helps channel the negative energy of fear and uncertainty towards driving innovation. As a leader, you will be surrounded by skeptics. Reject pessimism and turn the volume up on positivity.

4. Motivate and empower

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams

Without the right kind of stimulus, people produce mediocre work and drain out quickly. Some get inspired by power, some by incentives, some by appreciation and some by interesting work. It is your responsibility to identify specific motivation factors in your employees and empower them. Your effort to nourish the team will also indicate that you care for them, which in turn is a great fuel to boost productivity and loyalty.

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5. Accept feedback generously

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy

One if the best ways to grow and improve is by graciously accepting constructive feedback. Many managers, especially CEOs, by way of their power, find it demeaning to be ‘advised by their juniors’. However, your people hold the key to invaluable information that can make you more successful. So leave your ego behind, and ask what you can do better. You may choose to do that in a more informal setting or through a defined 360-degree feedback model

6. Lead by example

You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey

Teaching by force and directive orders is passé. This is the generation of producing future leaders by walking the talk. Don’t waste hours trying to convince people. Instead, demonstrate the benefits of a particular decision by your own action. You cannot expect others to do what you would not do. Besides garnering respect and trust, you will be able to set higher standards and achieve better results.

The easiest way to begin is by thinking of your role model. Who would you want to emulate? What kind of traits does that person have?

7. Take responsibility and own up

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. —John Maxwell

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Say no to passing blame onto others. It’s the most diminishing quality any leader can possess. Being at the top implies taking ownership of your vision and your team’s actions. In spite of having a robust set of internal controls, any organization will have its share of slip-ups and errors. You will need a whole lot of courage to apologize for mistakes and take measures to improve upon them.

8. Use power to drive change

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus

In the book, Onward: How Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shares his remarkable story, giving us many leadership lessons. Eight years after stepping down from the daily oversight of Starbucks, Schultz returned as CEO in 2008. His aim was to bring back the core values that Starbucks was originally known for. He took some drastic decisions, including closing 900 stores and shutting the remaining 11,000 US stores for a day to retrain 115,000 people. The media questioned the relevance of these changes, but Schultz explained, “It was honest, it was authentic and it was necessary”.

As a leader you are often faced with challenges that require bold and unconventional decisions. Trust your instincts and use your authority to your advantage. Change is imminent to establish an environment for continous growth.

9. Cultivate patience

Patience and perseverance have a magical affect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish – John Quiny Adams

Successful leaders are proactive yet patient. They understand that a lifespan consists of periods of sprint followed by periods of recovery time. Many of us are prone to snap-decisions under deadlines and pressure. Be careful when you are influenced by excitement and wish to see quick results. This especially holds true for small businesses and start-ups, where patience can make or kill. The Dutch often say that a handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains.

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10. There is no ‘One’ leadership style

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. —Thomas Jefferson

When there are no two people in this word exactly alike, how can there be a single way to lead?  Daniel Goleman studied around 3000 mid level managers, uncovering six different leadership styles – Commanding, Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting and Coaching. Emotional intelligence being the driver, each of these techniques has a deep impact on organizational climate. While some approaches have a more negative influence, they are apt for certain circumstances and people.

Effective leaders have all these cards up their sleeve and address the demands of the particular situation. They are flexible and keep switching from one style to the other. Which one do you identify the most with? Its time to buckle up and learn the remaining styles.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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