Millennials! Think you’re not Leadership Material? Think Again!

Slide
Dr Eliz

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember sitting at the top of the curly slide waiting for my big sister to slide down with me. I really wanted to go by myself but was too afraid.

Then, one day I decided I was done sliding as a duo. I was going to overcome my fear and slide down by myself.

I can recall that day vividly. I climbed up the ladder, sun blinding me. It seemed to take forever to get to the top. I walked to the landing, sat down and placed my legs over the edge. I could feel my heart pounding. To buy a bit more time, I let a few kids slide down before me. Then it was my turn. This was it and I knew I couldn’t back down.

I had made my decision and was going to stick to it. I scooted back over to the center of the landing, put my hands on the gritty surface, took a deep breath and pushed. I was officially a solo slider after that, and I was never the same. I felt freer, taller and more confident. I didn’t know it at the time but I had just demonstrated one of the best qualities of a leader: Courage.

So, why am I sharing this story? Because, many Millennials don’t believe they are leadership material and because I want to prove them wrong!

As I think back, I can recall more childhood stories where I demonstrated leadership. Had I realized this at a much younger age (the age Millennials are now), I might have kicked it up a notch and embraced my leadership potential much earlier.

That is what I want Millennials to do now!

Below I have listed a few of my favorite leadership qualities. Read through them, take a trip down memory lane and identify times you demonstrated your leadership potential. Once you realize you have this potential, let yourself embrace and engage it.

Leaders Are Courageous

This doesn’t mean they never feel fear or doubt they can face their fear. Instead, they don’t allow fear to defeat them. Leaders acknowledge the fear and decide how to accomplish their goals regardless of fear.

Leaders Fail

They fail, learn from their failures and become more empowered because of them.

Leaders See the Best in Others

Not only do they see the best in others, they embrace those qualities. Leaders surround themselves with a community of people who compliment their skills. They learn from their community and find ways to make it better.

Leaders Focus on What Is Right

They make decisions based on what they believe is right; not on what is popular. They act on what is true to their core and don’t apologize or make excuses for doing so.

Leaders Are Mentors

Leaders teach others, whether they realize it or not. They have an innate tendency to guide, nurture and encourage others.

So, have you identified some good childhood stories? If so, please share them here and let everyone know when you first embarked on your journey of leadership.

Liz is the Coordinator of Career & Professional Development at Spring Hill College where she helps students transition from student to professional. She is also in the process of starting her own consulting business where she works with businesses and individuals on professional etiquette, branding and image consulting. Liz holds a Master of Science Degree in College Student Affairs from Purdue University as well as a Certification in Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol from the Protocol School of Washington. When she is not working, you will most likely find Liz gardening, sewing, reading or attempting to surf on her new surfboard.

  • Andrew Stein

    Much of this hesitation is taught. It stems from “fear” that is passed on to us through parents, teachers, and mentors, as we grow up. The pre-Millennial generation has used fear and shame around what is wrong, broken, or failing to suggest that Leadership continues to be the elite “heroic model” that overpowered the industrial era of the first half of the last century. In the 90s, there was talk about a “post-heroic era of leadership, but it has yet to become pervasive. Today, in the social era, all these notions no longer work, or apply. What next? Some of this has to change in the home and in our schools, not just the university level, but even as early as grade school. Great post, Elizabeth.

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