A recent Barna study has reported that 4 out of 5 young adults say society is in a leadership crisis.

The crisis is related to the number of quality leaders today. Young people are concerned that not enough leaders are being developed and that our current leaders are too busy and distracted to develop new leaders.

My experience has been that leaders tend to hold on to their power and out of fear of letting go, they hold on too long. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that I’m too young and inexperienced to lead. Currently, I am in a senior leadership position on a national level, which is as far up as I can go other than to be the president of the organization. The reason I am in this position is because the president believes in the importance of succession planning and building into young leaders.

Not many senior leaders have this perspective. I have encountered so many situations in which the senior leader has very little trust in the next generation. Instead of building into those who show potential, they see them as a threat. They fear that the next generation will change too much too quickly.

Unconventional thinking is the path forward

The millennial generation, of which I am among the oldest, is filled with unconventional thinkers. This is because the world has changed so much during our lifetime, we are confident that every way of doing things needs to be reevaluated. But that doesn’t mean everything needs to change.

Unconventional thinking is extremely valuable in today’s ever-changing social climate. I was recently a part of a think-tank made up of leaders with aged 20-60 years old (pictured above). We are facing the challenge of leadership succession head-on and working toward a reproducible model for supporting leaders of young adults all the way down to children.

We want to stay ahead of the curve by building into our younger generations. This will only be possible if we include leaders of all generations. We need the perspective of both the young and the old.

Bring a few millennials into your inner circle

My suggestion to leaders today is for you to find 1-3 millennial-aged people who show leadership potential, and ask them if they would like to be a part of your advisory team. Don’t ask them if you can mentor them, ask them to help you lead well. The result is that you will be mentoring them in the process, as you share with them the challenges of leadership.

Bringing in a few younger leaders into your inner circle will not only develop a new generation of leaders, but it will also make you a better leader. It doesn’t mean you have to take all of their advice. In fact, it’s not even about asking them for advice. It’s about inviting them into the world of leadership, and sharing in the challenges you face on a regular basis.


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