You've worked hard for a while, and now you're in a leadership role. Given your status as a young professional, the promotion prompts equal parts pride and anxiety. While you know you've earned the role, you may have concerns about how you'll lead compared to your older peers.
However, leadership roles are ripe for younger workers, especially as more baby boomers reach retirement age. In fact, the last quarter of 2016 saw an 800,000-person increase in the number of Americans 65 or older who weren't in the workforce for reasons beyond disability, according to Bloomberg. Moreover, the presence of older professionals rebuilding their retirement savings following the financial crisis has even ebbed. These trends indicate more upward mobility could appear in the near future.
With the possibility of greater leadership potential ahead, you might want to get used to heading a team. Here are some tips to help you settle in as a young leader:
Seek out your mentor
Whether this role is your first leadership position or your fifth, take the time to find a seasoned professional who can guide you. Not only do you have a source of advice for when you run into issues, but you also gain another perspective on your approaches.
For instance, if you desire to give your employees more autonomy, speak with your coach about what challenges arise from offering subordinates flexibility. Also, ask how to reign in that freedom as needed without hovering too much. While the advice could run counter to the approach you want to take, the opposing perspective can help you find a compromise that suits your needs and employee engagement.
"Solicit a few perspectives as you step into your leadership role."
Also, consider attending conferences and networking events so you can meet others who can mentor you. Solicit a few perspectives as you step into your leadership role so you can hear different strategies and pick ones you like to build your management style.
Get accustomed to humility
Leadership doesn't mean you know everything. In addition to leaning on your mentors when you need help, don't shy away from admitting when you're wrong. Also, exercise transparency regarding how others help you along the way.
Be an example for your team
Sometimes, balancing delegation and initiative presents difficulties in a leadership position. However, don't get too comfortable passing tasks onto others. Get your hands dirty when possible. This approach shows your team you're also willing to do the work, and it helps you empathize with your subordinates.
Make time to listen
Whether it's one-to-one meetings or office hours, make yourself available to solicit feedback from your employees. Your growth as a leader hinges on comments from your team as much as it relies on mentor advice.
To learn more about becoming the best leader you can be, check out our course "Leadership: Recognizing the Leader in You."