In every organization there is something young talented people struggle with.
In Canadian (and North American) work environments, we all want to be kings. CEOs. The one at the top. Why? So we can do whatever we want to, of course! (All the CEOs can have a chuckle here…) The younger the leadership potential, the more we see this sort of thinking. I purposely used the word potential because that’s all a young leader can be. Sorry. I was young too once and would have shared your outrage. When all you have are theories, you are a potential in that area. Wisdom comes through the pain filter and experience. If your view of life is overly simple, you are probably a potential still. Now, a leader boils down complex problems to deal with them simply, but potentials view everything as simple, especially other people’s responsibilities. “I’d have done THAT! It would have worked way better than what you did…”. Are relationships that simple? Anyone married for more than a month knows that single people should keep their marriage advice to themselves.
Life is simply more complicated than we thought when we were younger. (That was a cool sentence). It’s harder too. The young eagles are used to rising to the top quickly, so life must be simple!
The real question is how do we transition them into being useful? Sounds terrible, but the last thing I need is another worker who already knows more than I do.
We are only useful when we realize and appreciate what we are to the whole. An organization with great culture where people go out of their way to help other people and departments succeed makes more money with less talent because they have buy in. Talented individuals can paddle in different directions and cause chaos. Are we stewards of authority and influence or are we kings? Is my position answerable to someone above me? My job must be to represent what authority I have been given. But it doesn’t belong to me and it’s not for me, it’s for the whole.
Here we go… For the allotted time and needed growth in that one with potential to take place, I personally can’t be that close to them sometimes. They want to be close to the power brokers (tongue in cheek) but what would they actually do? That conversation or that meeting might be too much for them. My thought processes work best with my high capacity people because we can get deep fast. When I’m working hand in hand with someone who’s constantly tripping over themselves and the basics it frustrates me personally. The longer they’re around me, the more I’ll expect and the more I’ll want to lean on them, which is a problem. I expect results when results might just be impossible for them. They simply can’t take it yet because their capacity needs time to grow. I would want to remove them as a distraction or problem before too long, which might be a mistake.
They need jobs they could succeed at, not jobs that only I would succeed at. They have talent but need patience, which I don’t personally have loads of. Someone needs to take them under their wing and teach them that we only represent what doesn’t belong to us. We hold power with open hands. We learn from every mistake and every person. We leave ego at the door and evaluate everything our organizations do honestly. I want to have those conversations in five word sentences, but the potentials need more time commitment than that. They need to be down a few layers with mentors who speak their language.
The right potential in the wrong place at the wrong time gets fired. We must get smarter and try to set them up for success. If they get a grip on the concepts we’re comfortable with, their value will transform our organizations!
One more thing, I came from a very healthy home. When we got heck for doing something wrong or even stupid, it was never tied to our worth. Value and worth were reinforced every moment of every day. We knew we could do anything we set our minds to. There was honestly never an issue with us owning up to mistakes because our usefulness was never tied to our inherent value. “Yep, that was me! Apologies everyone! I’ll do better next time:)”. Who else had that kind of advantage in life? Our young eagles need inherent value reinforced constantly. In the backs of their minds they are doubting that they will have what it takes, but they’ll never show it. It comes out during times of disagreement and criticism. The best defence is a good offence! Strike first! I simply don’t understand why someone would take all the energy defending stupid decision making instead of just fixing it? But they don’t see it as it, they see it as them. I’d better be wise enough to put them under or with someone who understands that part of their real issue, or they will surely fail.
Layer them in and maybe the investment will pay off in the end?