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.
One observation is that all successful leaders do this one thing.
Their personalities may be different.
Their vision will be tailored to their industry.
Even values will be different.
But the key differentiator between good leaders and GREAT leaders is their ability to handle “Crucial Conversations”.
Many years ago, I was 28 and trying to prove himself. I confronted someone about a small thing. But I handled the conversation poorly. The small thing turned into a HUGE thing. I didn’t know how to use T.A.C.T. So this one area has been a massive growth area for me personally and professionally.
What are Crucial Conversations? You know when a conversation is turning “Crucial” when there are:
1. Opposing Opinions
2. Strong Emotions
3. High Stakes
So…how do you handle “Crucial Conversations”? That’s the key question. To answer, I am attempting to condense an entire book (called “Crucial Conversations”) into a few statements.
The best way to summarize is this: We must use T.A.C.T
Talk Facts. Share the facts, not your assumptions. Facts are least insulting and verifiable. Facts keep the conversation on the issue, not the person. Facts keep you focused and helps the other person keep focus also.
Avoid Assumptions. You and I typically know a narrow slice of facts, so our mind fills in the gaps with assumptions and “stories” about why the person did what they did or said what they said. We guess about their intentions. You and I will never handle conversations well if we speak from assumption rather than fact.
Collaborate. After finding out the facts, ask how you can help. Partner with them for performance. Rather than playing the role of an enemy in their eyes, you are offering to be their support, their friend, their advocate. This is servant leadership at it’s best – even when you’ve been wronged.
Talk Tentatively. If we address the conversation with a spirit of humility, our body language says “you can trust me.” However, if we come across direct and confrontative, we will shut them down before the conversation even starts.
Use T.A.C.T when conversations turn crucial. Use T.A.C.T to hunt the elephant in the room.
One thing about elephants in the room: if you don’t address them, they have a tendency to multiply.
Then you’re really screwed.
Men think they’re better off solo, even when they aren’t
Mastering these six secrets gives you the ability to effectively connect with any group of people when sharing your expertise.
I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some great leaders, and one of those thought leaders, Dr. David Facer with the Ken Blanchard Company, is a friend who has done extensive research on “Optimal Motivation” factors related to our personal and professional engagement.
- Offer as many options as possible when making requests for action, and make them true options. Employees need to feel a sense of freedom and control over their work. Try to avoid false options that really pressure them toward the single outcome you think is best.
- Highlight the extraordinary learning that everyone is doing, particularly when times are tough. People are less afraid of difficult challenges when they realize they are successfully learning their way through them.
- Balance focus on final results with focus on team, community, and collective effort. Be sure not to bang the table for results without expressing your gratitude for individual and team effort along the way.
6 Ways to control your control freak:
- Authorize someone on your team to confront you when you’re controlling. Give them permission to point out controlling language, postures, and behaviors.
- Ask more; command less.
- Adapt to and align with others. Adapting is weakness and failure to control freaks. Everything’s a contest.
- Speak for yourself not others. Control freaks won’t speak from their hearts and won’t let others speak from theirs either. Say what you really think.
- Monitor and reject fear-based decisions. Control freaks are fearful. Fear is best for maintaining and protecting. Courage innovates.
- Go with new ideas. Control freaks default to “no,” unless it’s their idea.
- Connect. Close the distance. Embrace casual; reject corporate-speak.
- Correct or confront.
- Collaborate. Plan with not for.
It’s nauseating to hear – someone soft-shoe dancing around an issue because they’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. They do so because they might receive negative feedback in a 360 review that they were abrupt or too direct in delivering feedback on that issue. So rather than going the direct route, they water down their message until it’s a mealy mouthed blathering stream of meaningless suggestions.
It’s called CANDOR. Jack Welch speaks of this as critical for personal success. So here’s what I propose:
When you tiptoe around an issue, we come across as lacking conviction and clarity. More likely than not the recipient of the feedback knows what they did (or didn’t do). They just want you to get it over with. Dancing around the issue is a waste of time. It’s confusing. The recipient might walk away confused or with the wrong impression. None of these are good things.
Heed Yoda’s advice: