3 Gifts for a 20-Something: On Leadership

pixteller-design-a1af85321d11e9edWhat three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for themselves. No more woulda, coulda, shoulda. 

Getting ready to focus on leadership this fall (adult back-to-school)? Today’s three wishes are from three different leaders in their field on the one leadership quality they think you should develop in your twenties (from one of my 7×7 Mentoring Salons.)

1. Listen twice as much as you speak. This may be very simplistic advice but it has helped me so much, especially as our world gets increasingly noisy with so much information thrown at us. I tend to live by this: listen twice as much as you speak. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Remembering this will help you with all the people around you…with your team, with your customers and with your stakeholders. Listening to people leads to trust if you really do listen to them and not just hear them. — Susan McPherson, founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies

 2. Listen to yourself. A really important person to listen to is yourself. One of my favorite definitions of leadership comes from Marshal Ganz. He says that leadership is taking responsibility for enabling others to achieve a shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. I found that when I’ve been challenged to get a team to achieve a shared purpose, it was because they didn’t trust me. And they didn’t trust me because I wasn’t fully aligned on my own purpose. You need to have your actions, your words, your thoughts and your vision aligned. That allows you to not have to spend so much energy reconciling what to do. It’s an important part of being centered and being a great leader. — Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer, Levo League

3. A growth mindset. One of the leadership ideas that I’ve been interested in lately is the growth mindset versus fixed mindset. Carol Dweck has done a lot of research in this area. The concept is that if you’re in a fixed mindset, you believe that you’re born with a certain level of intelligence, talent and ability and you spend all of your time trying to protect that. You try to make sure that nobody ever sees that you’re doing something wrong. You surround yourself with people who are just good enough to make you look good but don’t ever surpass your level of intelligence or genius.

They researched people how have been truly successful, from athletes to CEOs, people who have built a legacy,–  the thing they all have in common is that they have a growth mindset. They are willing to be surrounded by people who are smarter than they are. They’re really willing to always have beginner’s mind—go back and be in that place where they’re willing to learn and they’re willing to step out and make mistakes and show people that they don’t have all of the answers. You may already be in a growth mindset, pay attention to make sure that you stay on that place. It’s think is very important.  — Jessica Lawrence, Executive Director of NY Tech Meetup

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