The makeup of leadership teams in the workplace is rapidly changing. One study found that about 10,000 baby boomer employees are retiring every day and that by 2020 millennials will comprise about 50% of the workforce in the United States.
Because of these trends, young leaders are being asked to take on significant leadership roles. This can present challenges both for the managers and for those who are being managed. This article provides readers with 10 ways to gain respect as a young leader; respect that should also help those being managed.
1. Prove Your Value As Soon As Possible
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, young leaders are faced with a number of unique challenges related to the way colleagues perceive them in the workplace. A primary concern is that young leaders lack the necessary experience or knowledge to be successful.
To overcome this perception, young leaders should create a goal for themselves early on and should share this goal with the team. They should then make sure to actually hit the goal. Doing this early in a young leader’s tenure can demonstrate to the team that they are capable of performing as expected.
2. Genuinely Care About The Wellbeing Of Your Team
It becomes considerably easier to earn people’s respect when they believe that their manager cares about their wellbeing. Caring about an individual’s wellbeing does not mean that you should be a pushover, or that you should accommodate every personal request a team member makes.
Instead, you should show that you care about your team’s success, both individually and collectively. You should make time to be available for your team for work and personal matters and should listen more than you talk.
3. Understand That Their Success Is Your Success
A key difference between a business leader and an individual contributor is that a leader is judged by the success of his or her team. That means that a leader should constantly be thinking of ways to put his or her team in the spotlight if they do well-executed work. Others in the company will swiftly realize that you are the one leading those on your team to success.
Putting the success of the team first is also an effective way to earn respect as a young leader. If people feel that you are interested in their professional growth, they are more likely to be open to feedback and guidance.
4. Give And Ask For Honest Feedback
Speaking of feedback, it is important to provide candid feedback to your team. It is the only way that your people will grow professionally. As Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said in an interview, “You reinforce the behaviors that you reward … If you reward candor, you’ll get it.” Welch went on to espouse the importance of providing candid feedback to people on your team. Failing to do so is a great way to ensure mediocrity.
5. Provide Employees With Reasonable Autonomy
If you micromanage from the get-go, people will quickly become frustrated with you. This is especially true if the previous manager was relatively hands-off.
Instead, provide employees with a reasonable level of autonomy and trust them to make the right decision. After further evaluation, decide whether employees can work autonomously. If they cannot, put them on a performance-improvement plan. If that doesn’t work, you may have to let them go. Managers should not be micromanagers; they should be facilitators who empower employees.
6. Hold Regular One-On-One Meetings
Ben Horowitz is a well-known venture capitalist and the former CEO of two successful technology companies. After years of leading people, he came to realize the importance of conducting meaningful one-on-one meetings with the people on his team.
Holding a one-on-one meeting lets employees know you are available to help them succeed. It provides employees with a space where they can ask for and receive feedback, and it also provides a mechanism for you to hold those on your team accountable on a regular basis.
7. Ask For Advice From Other Leaders
You won’t have all the answers all the time, and that’s okay. Develop a network of business leaders whom you feel comfortable calling when a challenging managerial task pops up. Cultivating a network of other successful business leaders can accelerate your learning curve, making you a more effective leader.
8. Practice Patience
Be patient with yourself and with your team—within reason. Understand that it will take time for you to learn the ropes of management and that it will take time for your team to acclimate to a young business leader.
Create a management routine for yourself; one that involves regular one-on-one meetings and self-reflection. In time, your team should come to respect you as a leader.
9. Be Humble
According to a study cited in the Washington Post, humble leaders are more effective leaders. Humble leaders (those who have an accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses) were more likely to lead their business to success and were more likely to receive positive assessments from people on their team.
Being humble means putting the good of others, and of the organization, ahead of yourself. It also means being able to clearly take stock of areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
10. Make Personnel Changes If Needed
If, after following the nine best practices listed above, you find it difficult to establish respect among some members of your team, it may be time to make a personnel change.
True leaders will not tolerate insubordination after a sustained effort to earn respect. One toxic employee can negatively color how others within the organization see you as a leader. It is important to be open to making personnel changes should that be called for.
It can be challenging to be a young leader in the workplace today. To quickly gain respect, remember to put the success of employees ahead of your own success. Hold regular one-on-one meetings and create a culture of candid feedback to help employees grow quickly. If all else fails, remember that firing an insubordinate employee is acceptable in some situations.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi.