When Airbnb was founded, CEO Brian Chesky was 27 years old. Steve Jobs was 25 years old when Apple went public. Bill Gates was only 20 when he founded Microsoft. Young business leaders have the ability to achieve amazing things despite inexperience.
If you want to be a successful young leader, you will need to acquire a few common traits shared by the world’s most successful young businesspeople. Here are 12 habits of successful young leaders, so you can put yourself on track to reaching new heights professionally.
Tim Ferriss is a New York Times best-selling author, the host of one of the most popular business podcasts in the world and a successful startup investor. However, at the outset of his professional career, he was a frustrated salesperson stuck in a typical 9-to-5 job.
Ferriss credits his success to building a network of already successful people who provided him with great advice, and with access to future business partners. Ferriss earned this access by volunteering at a local charity organization, where members included some of San Francisco’s most highly regarded investors and entrepreneurs.
Build a network by joining an active organization, and make your presence felt by making an outsized contribution to the cause. In time, members will take notice, and you will be able to make valuable business connections that will serve your burgeoning career.
The business world is changing quickly, and the pace of change will continue to accelerate with new technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning, among other innovations. For young leaders to stay ahead of the curve, it is important that you constantly educate yourself.
Self-learning can come in many forms. There are a number of excellent online business and leadership courses offered by organizations like Coursera and Khan Academy. Attending live conferences about a specific area of business can also be helpful, both in learning new best practices and building a network.
Richard Branson famously said, “You should listen more than you talk.” The billionaire business leader has a point. Effective leadership requires understanding the thoughts, feelings and needs of your team. Based on this input, leaders will need to take decisive and informed decisions. But failing to listen to colleagues or people on your team can cause frustration and lead to poor business outcomes.
In Silent Messages, UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian argues that much of communication stems from nonverbal cues. He says that about 55% of communication is non-verbal, 38% is based on tone of voice, and only 7% is based on word choice.
A critical component of effective leadership is being able to communicate effectively. In order to do that, be sure to pay attention to important nonverbal cues. Avoid slouching, make eye contact and present a confident and calm appearance.
For a young business leader, it can feel as though the amount of work that needs to be done is unending. To help yourself stay organized, it is important to develop an organizational framework that makes it easy to prioritize work.
Adopting the Eisenhower decision matrix, which indicates the relative importance of the issues at hand, can be a great way for young leaders to determine what should be done next.
According to a study referenced in the Harvard Business Review, humble leaders tend to be more effective. The article defines a humble leader as someone who is able to accurately access his or her strengths and weaknesses.
Additionally, employees and team members will come to respect your opinions more readily if they believe you are able to develop an opinion without letting ego get in the way.
Some of the best business leaders are able to embrace change, even when change is hard. Steve Jobs was able to form a new and relatively successful computer company after being asked to leave Apple. Elon Musk was able to develop Tesla and SpaceX after leaving PayPal. Brain Chesky was willing to transform Airbnb from a business focused on serving renters to a worldwide accommodations platform.
Embracing change can make you a more successful business leader. As Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”
As was mentioned earlier, the pace of technological change will accelerate once artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) platforms go mainstream. The well-known venture capitalist Tomasz Tunguz predicts that AI and ML will transform business as we know it. For young business leaders to stay ahead of the competition, it is important to develop at least a rudimentary understanding of AI and ML in order to prepare for the future.
Servant leadership is the idea that as a business leader you are responsible for empowering your team to success first and foremost. Rather than asking the people you lead to serve you and your goals, you mentor and encourage your team to hit their goals. Assuming that their goals are aligned with the company vision, the business will be successful when your team is successful.
Providing candid feedback can be uncomfortable at first, but the best organizations and leaders are able to ask for and solicit feedback in order to lift up everyone involved.
To create a culture that encourages candid feedback, start by soliciting it from colleagues and members of your team. Once you set a good example, others will begin asking for feedback as well.
Taking time for yourself has been shown to improve productivity and happiness. While becoming a successful young leader will require a significant amount of work above and beyond the traditional 9-to-5 job, it is still important to find time for yourself.
An effective way to create work–life balance is to schedule both work and personal activities on the same calendar. If you are conscientious about protecting your time, you’ll be able to live a balanced and productive life.
It’s easy to surrender to the day. Email, meetings and urgent tasks can make it difficult to focus on important long-term goals. But it is important that, as a young leader, you maintain a forward-thinking outlook that prioritizes strategic thinking over day-to-day work.
Successful young leaders have the ability to shape our world and grow both personally and professionally. To become a successful young leader, consider adopting some of the key traits exemplified by leaders like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Brian Chesky.
As a young leader, it’s important to learn how to communicate, prioritize and self-teach. This will empower you to manage teams, and enable you to think strategically today and in the long run.