There will come a point in time in every Millennial's career when we move from being primarily executioners to leading teams and managing others. Whether you're a young pastor moving from a youth ministry role into a more administrative role or an account manager moving into a supervisor role, there will be a day when your primary responsibility shifts from doing the work ourselves to accomplishing the work through other people. However, as I've started making that transition in my own career, I've definitely learned the truth behind the idea that "everyone thinks leadership is easy until you become one."
I've had to face some challenging questions for the first time: How do I move from a "doer" role to a "manager" role? How do I change my mindset to effectively move from "hands on" role to one of directing and overseeing a team?
The short answer is... it's not easy. The paradox I'm learning is that answering those questions begins by asking another set of questions.
The Higher You Go, The Harder It Is to Define "Success"
When we start our careers in more of an execution type of role, it's easy to earn our stripes by what we can do. As we grow and get promoted, we start to get paid less for what we can do and more for what we know. The higher we go, the less defined our job description becomes. Our success depends on our ability to make other people feel powerful to get things done.
However, we still need something we can measure our work and effort by at the end of the day. That can be a challenge when our entire lives have been measured by meeting deadlines, cranking out projects. There's definitely a mental shift that needs to take place.
5 Questions to Help Millennials Grow into Leadership
How can Millennials know if we're being successful as we make the transition from doers to leaders? Here are 5 questions we can use to measure our efforts to determine, "Did I do what a leader should have done today?"
Am I asking the right questions? Successful leadership isn't about having all the answers; it's about being able to find them by asking better questions.
Am I listening for the best answers? We all know what it's like to work for "know-it-all leaders." The only way to avoid this is by disciplining ourselves to listen to the ideas of others.
Am I taking time to think about our biggest problems and opportunities? This can feel weird, especially if we've been primarily in a "doer" role. It can feel lazy. However, this is an essential part of leadership. It's the leader's responsibility to look up and ask, "Are we even on the right road?"
Am I effectively communicating the plan to our team and setting expectations? Successful teams are built on clear communication and direction. If we don't communicate the plan or set expectations, we force the team to make assumptions.
Am I stepping back to evaluate the strategy and observe the impact? Evaluation and experimentation are two words that are an essential part of leadership vocabulary. Are the things we're doing working? Is our hypothesis right? Are the things we're doing moving us closer toward achieving our goals? These are the types of questions leaders ask.
A Word of Encouragement Before You Step into Leadership
Stepping into a leadership role for the first time isn't easy. It's a big shift from where we've been.
Do your best.
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know."
You're not in leadership because you have all the answers; you're in leadership because you're going to help solve problems. My hope is that after a couple of years of doing it, leading others will feel as natural for us as putting our clothes on in the morning.
What questions do you ask to ensure you are becoming an effective leader?
Jeremy Chandler serves as a marketing manager at Pursuant, a fundraising agency serving the nation's leading nonprofits, faith-based ministries and churches. He and his wife, Mary, live in Nashville, Tennessee. If you're in the area, he jumps at any opportunity to connect with people over coffee.