Generation Y: From Team Members to Leaders
When young blood runs the show
Posted Aug 30, 2014
NA: What got you to write Becoming the Boss?
LP: I wrote my previous book, Getting from College to Career, to help young professionals succeed in landing their first jobs out of college. I had struggled with that experience, so I wrote the book I wish I had had when I graduated. I wroteBecoming the Boss because all of those young professionals who read GFCTC are now stepping up into leadership and management positions and they have begun asking me for advice on that next step in their career journey.
I also wrote this book because I'm frustrated by the common portrayal of Millennials as "entitled," narcissistic and overall a "lost" generation. I believe very strongly that today's young people have tremendous potential, but they do need some guidance on "soft skills," such as face-to-face communication, work ethic, and professional patience. This book is my attempt to provide that guidance and support to this huge generation of our world's future leaders.
NA: You say that career fear—everything from the fear of failure to the fear of success—is totally natural. How do you recommend that aspiring leaders move forward, despite their fears?
LP: I'm far from the first person to say it, but the best advice is to "feel the fear and do it anyway." One of my goals in the book is to show young leaders that most everyone feels nervous, apprehensive, unconfident and scared when they take on a leadership or management position. What's important is to remember that you were promoted or became a leader for a reason, and there are many mentors, supporters, friends, books, and blogs around to support you every step of the way. Leadership is a skill like any other—you start as a novice and—with time, hard work and a lot of practice—you get better and better.
NA: You offer networking tips for introverts that include asking for referrals, being polite, and reaching out online—all of which make good use of our quiet strengths. You also encourage introverts to ask questions and use their keen ability to listen more than talk to build relationships. We’re clearly on the same page! Can you give an example of how an up-and-coming leader can put these tips into action?
NA: Becoming the Boss includes a useful section titled “Networking with VIPs.” How do you recommend Millennials reach out to those who are more—even much more—established and successful than themselves?
LP: The most important strategies are to research the VIP extensively before reaching out (e.g., read their blog, follow them on Twitter, read their LinkedIn profile, read articles about them) and to reach out in a polite, professional way that shows you've done your homework on this person and you won't waste his or her time. You also want to make your "ask" something that won't feel like a burden to the person. For instance, request a 15-minute phone chat rather than an in-person coffee meeting. If the call goes well, you can hopefully build up to an in-person meeting in the future.
NA: Your book has a terrific quiz to help readers identify their management style. Included in the quiz are compelling multiple choice questions like: “When you’re the boss, you want to be: a) feared; b) respected; c) fair; d) the right balance of friendly and aloof.” How can learning your management style help you make decisions as a leader? What is special or different about the management styles of Millennials? How about of introverts?
LP: Knowing your management style helps you know your tendencies. For instance, if you answered this particular question by saying you want to be feared (and kudos for your honesty!), then if you are facing a particularly sensitive situation, such as helping a really talented staff member with a challenging client situation, you might decide to tone down the "fear me!" vibe. For introverts, you might know—as discussed above—that big, public presentations are not your forte, so you will spend more time practicing and preparing for them.
LP: The classic advice is not to do anything—in public or when you think you are in private—that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of The New York Times. This is even more crucial for Millennial leaders, whose every move may be Tweeted or Instagrammed. Part of being a leader in today's world is knowing, for better or worse, that people are watching you.
NA: Thank you for sharing these gems, Lindsey. Godspeed on your new book!
© Copyright 2014 Nancy Ancowitz