10 Things Young Leaders Need to Succeed

Old leaders, who cling to leadership, limit their legacy. The Success of young leaders is the future of organizations.

Act like you’ll be gone next year.


Call for commitment.

The image below is Shackleton’s ad for sailors to undertake a polar expedition. 5,000 sailors applied for 28 positions.

shacklton's ad for crew


Clear the path to self-awareness for young leaders. Explain what they look like to others – in the light of what they want to look like. Work to bring inner perceptions into alignment with external. It’s harder to know yourself than you think.

“I’m just being myself,” is inadequate, when others misunderstand who you are. Inadequate views of authenticity causes young leaders to minimize the importance of leadership presence, for example.

Indulgent views of authenticity causes young leaders to minimize the value of adapting to others. It’s dangerous to lose yourself to the expectations of others. On the other hand, unnecessary offense or confusion hinders success.

Experienced mentors give young leaders the opportunity to engage in self-reflection – in the presence of someone else. Self-delusion is easy.

Self-affirmation is easier than taking responsibility.

10 things young leaders need to succeed:

  1. High personal standards. Low standards lead to mediocrity.
  2. Clarity regarding challenges. Making it easy, when its difficult, frustrates and disappoints.
  3. Ability to transition through disappointment and frustration to positive action.
  4. Real, meaningful responsibility. Young leaders don’t realize you’re putting political capital on the line for them, when you give them authority. Do it anyway. Let them do things where failure matters.
  5. Environments where it’s safe to try and learn.
  6. Behavioral solutions to leadership failures.
  7. A “one of,” not, “one above,” attitude.
  8. Responsibility, not entitlement.
  9. Experienced leaders who believe in them.
  10. Affirmation and constant feedback. Encourage them to give themselves feedback on their own performance.

Bonus: Young leaders need mentors, not meddlers.

How do old leaders help young leaders succeed?

Added resource: “Leading at The Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition,” by Dennis N.T. Perkins