We at RevV are focused on helping rising professionals grow. Those that are early in their career and life journeys and need help navigating who they want to be and the impact they want to make in the world.
According to research from Harvard Business Review, the average age of first-time managers is 30, and the average age of people in leadership training is closer to 42. This means most workers are working for almost 20 years before receiving critical support. Leaders need development before they’re promoted so they are ready for their new role. At RevV, we offer experiences, tools, and resources to achieve this readiness giving new leaders the confidence they need on day one.
In our last blog, we talked with a panel of successful leaders, Lin Coughlin, Joe Marques, and Samantha Yarwoodon what leadership means to them. It all came down to one major thing: making a difference. To inspire the leaders of today and tomorrow, we also asked what they wish they would have done differently in those first 20 years after knowing what they know now.
Here is what they have to say.
Start with purpose
“Imagine if you started with purpose at the beginning of your career, instead of the end, or later in your career?” Sam asked.
Most of us don’t really think about purpose until a major life event. The loss of a loved one, birth of a child, or other major disruption or change. It’s usually in times of deep reflection when we finally think about purpose.
At RevV we believe exploring purpose is a lifelong pursuit. We don’t spend enough time in school or work focusing on purpose. That's why we want to help rising professionals explore their purpose. Making our “Work Life Journey” one of the most meaningful experiences on RevV. Through storytelling, and inner work, we help people uncover and unlock their purpose.
Your uniqueness is your strength
When we talk with rising leaders, they often have similar challenges that sound like this: “I am the youngest in the room, how do I present myself in a way that I am taken seriously?”
First, what are facts versus perceptions? You might be the youngest but that says nothing about your credibility. If you worry about not being credible it’s often a self-fulfilling prophecy since your mindset and attitude will cause you to sound tentative – which will undermine your credibility.
Use inquiry to create dialogue
“If you’re ever asking yourself ‘should I say it or should I not?" use inquiry to explore possibilities vs the use of declarative statements," Lin suggested.
The easiest way to minimize defensiveness is by asking a question instead of making a statement. Statements, regardless of intent, can be taken as criticism. Why not pose a question instead? Here's an example: rather than observing “I don’t think the team is ready for this change,” ask the question “how do you think the team might react to this change?”
By inviting the other person to respond you are helping them see for themselves what the challenges might be. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t follow up with your own thoughts if you believe the person is missing a big risk. It’s simply starting with inquiry as the first method of discovery since it will be perceived as curious and not critical.
“By the time you’re older you’ve already messed up a lot. I know that I’ve made almost every mistake you can as a leader!” Joe stated as the group shared a good laugh.
The real lesson here is being vulnerable enough to share stories of your failures. When you share stories of failure as a leader you show your humanity and vulnerability. Letting others know that in failure there is always a lesson to be had.
Many rising leaders struggle to show this level of vulnerability, believing it undermines their credibility as a leader. A leader who projects an image of perfection is often the least credible and competent leader.
Say yes to the hard things
“Raise your hand to take on tasks that others don’t want. Doing something hard will earn respect and support in your organization,” Lin said. “The big breaks in my career came when I put my hand up to take on the challenging assignments that others avoided.”
Remember, it’s often the most challenging goals that have the greatest impact and offer the most fulfillment. There is a healthy level of stress associated with taking on sensibly challenging goals that push you beyond what you thought you could achieve.
Don’t be afraid to follow your curiosities and passions. They will tend to steer you in the right direction. Finding the courage to take on difficult challenges will often lead to the most rewarding moments in your life.
Ask for help by being collaborative
“If only I was more collaborative in the beginning. A big realization was that I don’t have to do everything myself”, Sam mentioned, “For some reason, I thought I had to figure it out by myself, but in reality, it is so much easier and better together."
Lin added, “The best ideas and outcomes be they related to opportunities or problem solving – arise when you get in a room with several people with diverse perspectives who trust that they are in a safe environment to debate and share.”
“Stop hoarding. Information is not power. I learned that the more I spread ideas, the better they get”, Joe mentioned.
Diversity is the fuel for creativity. Sharing diverse opinions and viewpoints always leads to the best outcomes. Through rich and engaging discussion comes clarity of thought.
Did this discussion resonate with you? Have more to say? Have a difference of opinion? Well, come join us at RevV in our RevV Leaders Network to be part of the discussion and our community.