How can the next generations develop their leadership abilities? John Mattone is an international leadership, talent and culture expert and author of Talent Leadership: A Proven Method for Identifying and Developing High-Potential Employees and Intelligent Leadership: What You Need to Know to Unlock Your Full-Potential. John was recently named one of the world’s top 10 leadership authorities and top twenty executive coaches. John recently sat down with AMA and gave his advice to future leaders everywhere.
AMA: What do Gen Y’ers, or millennials, need to do to accelerate their leadership development?
JM: I think there are four things that we’re seeing in the research that we’re doing, and also as we go around working with high potentials, some of the younger executives, as we work with the Gen Y’ers. There’s a need to strengthen something called critical thinking, so the ability to focus in on details, to teach people to recognize assumptions behind arguments, which is a skill. You’ve got to have the ability to do that, the ability to evaluate arguments, the ability to draw relevant conclusions, all kinds of research on the younger people. When you ask senior executives what’s lacking in the Gen Y’ers, it is that focus on details and substance. That’s number one.
Number two, there’s no substitute for hard work. I’m not saying that all Gen Y’ers are looking for immediate rewards, although I see more of that in the Gen Y population than the Gen X population. You’ve got to work your tail off if you’re going to achieve what it is that you’re capable of achieving. There’s no shortcut. It’s a winding road. You’re going to be hit. There’s going to be a lot of failure. So there needs to be diligence around working hard, and also working smart.
Third, I think you’ve got to be somewhat patient. It’s not all going to unfold according to your schedule. But I think if you commit every day to becoming the best that you can be and you commit to the reward of the journey, you associate success and rewards with the journey of learning and growing. This allows you to become the best that you can be, without getting overly caught up in a promotion or title. It’s not going to happen according to your schedule. You’ve got to be patient.
The fourth thing is, there’s a difference between fearlessness and courage. We’ve got to cultivate courage in our younger people. And so, companies would be well advised to, in their leadership development programs, create environments where the younger executives take appropriate relevant risks so they can fail and learn from those experiences.