At the same time, seasoned leaders are observing a sense of entitlement in these young leaders. Over-protective parents have rescued their kids to quickly from tough situations rather than instilling perseverance and hard work. They are growing up being repeatedly told: “You’re Awesome!” “You’re Smart!” and “You’re Gifted!” which easily can lead to a self-centered view of the world and an unrealistic view of their place on a team.
Here’s the good news: I’ve met some fantastic young leaders who are going against the grain and ready to impact their world as servant-leaders. They are out there. But finding them demands focused attention on recruiting and training those who are a “diamond” in the rough.
In his book “Artificial Maturity”, Tim Elmore provides 7 Marks of Maturity which help us identify those next-generation team members who are Leaders vs. Loafers:
1. They prioritize others before themselves.
A wise man once said: A mature person is one whose agenda revolves around others, not self. Certainly this can go to an extreme and be unhealthy, but I believe a pathway out of childishness is getting past your own desires and beginning to live to meet the needs of others less fortunate.
2. They are able to keep long-term commitments.
One key signal of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. Part of this means a student is able to keep commitments even when they are no longer new or novel. They can commit to continue doing what is right even when they don’t feel like it.
3. They are unshaken by flattery or criticism.
As people mature, they sooner or later understand that nothing is as good as it seems and nothing is as bad as it seems. Mature people can receive compliments or criticism without letting it ruin them or sway them into a distorted view of themselves. They are secure in their identity.
4. They possess a spirit of humility.
Humility parallels maturity. Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. Mature people aren’t consumed with drawing attention to themselves. They see how others have contributed to their success and can sincerely give honor to their Creator who gave them the talent. This is the opposite of arrogance.
5. Their decisions are based on character not feelings.
Mature people—students or adults—live by values. They have principles that guide their decisions. They are able to progress beyond merely reacting to life’s options, and be proactive as they live their life. Their character is master over their emotions.
5. They express gratitude consistently.
I have found the more I mature, the more grateful I am, for both big and little things. Immature children presume they deserve everything good that happens to them. Mature people see the big picture and realize how good they have it, compared to most of the world’s population.
7. They seek wisdom before acting.
Finally, a mature person is teachable. They don’t’ presume they have all the answers. The wiser they get, the more they realize they need more wisdom. They’re not ashamed of seeking counsel from adults (teachers, parents, coaches) or from God, in prayer. Only the wise seek wisdom.
Such high-capacity “next generation” leaders aren’t en masse – you find them one at a time. Keep recruiting, keep developing and keep mentoring.
Because – no longer are they the “next” generation.
They are already here.