Top tips for young leaders

Most young, new employees aren’t typically thought of as leaders in the workplace. Not only do they inhabit a low spot in the office hierarchy and lack experience and skills, but also many are too timid and insecure to assume a leadership role. But with the right attitude, an observant eye and a desire to learn, any young professional can prevail early on.

The best way to become an effective leader is to disregard it as a goal and instead focus on a learning journey that combines formal experiences in a workplace with selective experiences of your own making.

Today’s young professionals have been humbled by the recession and come across less entitled and more eager to learn, but negative perceptions still linger, so here are my top tips for young people interested in becoming effective leaders:

Be passionate

  • You will be hard pressed to find an effective leader who is not working in an area that they are passionate about.
  • When you combine passionate pursuit with your work you have an energy that others notice. It’s in your body language. People are naturally attracted whether they like you or not.
  • Great leaders mobilise others with their authentic energy.

Listen and observe

  • If you want to lead you need to be a champion at listening and observing. Every day the people around you are expressing themselves in words, body language and actions.
  • If you want to be the leader amongst leaders, learn about the personalities of the people you work with - Understand their strengths, weaknesses and motivations. Invest in them through conversation.

Show empathy

  • Ironically, there is no greater strength than the expression of empathy.
  • As a leader, always take the opportunity to exhibit your understanding when a colleague faces difficult times, whether that be as a result of their own actions or not.
  • A moment of kindness when a person is vulnerable can present a profound opportunity to recast a relationship and allow confidence to be built or rebuilt. A timely act of kindness can turn a person’s life around.
  • Do everything you can to understand the impact you have on others around you. To gain the trust and respect of your followers, you need to be fair.

Personal identity

  • The most effective leaders are not defined by their own success or the title they hold.
  • You will see on many occasions a person’s life unravel when they lose their leadership role. This is often because they have unwittingly allowed their title to be their identity and confidence.
  • Throughout your life, always ensure that you do not align your identity to your title. Not only will it make you more tentative in conducting your activities, it will shatter you if the title is taken away.
  • Your role should not define you.


  • Only when self-awareness becomes a strength will you be on your leadership journey.
  • Many hard working and well-meaning people miss out on their earned opportunity for promotion simply because they continued to have negative impacts on others without ever recognising it.
  • Leadership is about vision. It's about giving new or original perspectives to things. One who has his own understanding and interpretation of things will distinguish himself from others.
  • Thinking for yourself implies not taking anything for a fact. Always look for a personal explanation or interpretation. In order to gain that personal distance and understanding, one should never rely on others knowledge, work or judgment.

Be confident

  • Be careful to not confuse confidence with arrogance.
  • Be ambitious and do not be afraid to take risks.
  • Being a leader does not always mean that you are the most intelligent or capable person within a group. It just means that you have an ability to organize people and are able to utilize each person's skill set.
  • Inspire others to take action by showing your own action, commitment and good work for a better world. Make it easy for people to step in and join forces if they want to help.
  • Never let someone tell you that you cannot do something. If something isn't out there, go create it.

Be organized.

  • In order to work effectively, you will need to be organized. If you are disorganized, you will tend to forget certain things.
  • Know the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your team.

Communicate effectively

  • Be able to articulate your thoughts and speech thoroughly and efficiently.
  • This also includes being able to delegate tasks and being clear of your expectations.
  • Communicate well and respect others’ opinions, listen,
  • Recognise opportunities to help out and do the necessary work–even if it’s less-than-glamorous–and offering to take initiative to get things done are more appropriate ways to “lead” in the beginning,
  • Great communication comes from a genuine human interest in others.


Remember that you are young. Be energetic! Recognize that you are still young and embrace all that your prime has to offer for you.


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