Fundamental Advice for a Young Leader

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During a brief chat on Twitter the other evening, Noah Lomax challenged me
with the following question.

“Any fundamental advice you would give to a young leader who
wants to develop leadership ability?”

I told him that had to think about it before I answered. Here’s my best

Figure out whether you like the role of leader before you a commit to a
career of formal leadership roles. Leadership is a kind of work. Not everyone
likes it, so find out if you do by trying on the role in temporary and volunteer

Make a deliberate, concentrated effort to get better. Marshal all the
resources you can, but remember the basic learning cycle:
decide-try-critique-repeat. You won’t learn much without doing, but you will
learn more, faster, if you supplement doing with planning and reflection.

Most great leaders are also good managers and supervisors. All three kinds of
work come with the job. Master them all.

This is a people game. People with their knowledge and relationships are the
only source of sustainable competitive advantage. Master the arts of
relationships and communication. Learn to help others develop their knowledge
and relationships.

At the end of your career you are likely to look back and assess how things
went. Here’s what you will probably find. I hope the following observations will
help you make better choices along the way.

You are more likely to regret the things you failed to try than the things
that didn’t turn out as you expected. So try stuff.

You are less likely to remember the details of your triumphs than the people
who were with you at the time. So work on relationships.

You are more likely to measure the impact of your life by its affect on other
people’s lives than by counting the trophies in your trophy case. So concentrate
on contribution.

Good luck.

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