This week’s blog comes from coach and mentor Alexandra Howard of Mind, Mood ALIVE!
When I asked how she would prefer to be experiencing life right now, she said:
“I would prefer to have the experience of trusting myself more”.
I asked her to imagine what this experience of trust might look and feel like, and she responded:
“I imagine being able to be open, saying and doing what I think and feel without worrying about what others think”.
With a twinge of longing detected in her voice, she went on to share how liberating and empowering this would feel.
My conversation with her was not unique. Based on dozens of similar conversations, I want to reveal three things managers can do to motivate, inspire and grow young talent.
1. Create a safe and supportive environment to coax and cultivate full expression and self-trust.
This young woman’s response reveals that she clearly knows what she thinks and feels. There is wisdom living inside of her that’s wanting and waiting to be expressed – valuable, under-realized real estate in the form of words, opinions, perspectives and ideas.
From my perspective, young people know more than we think they do but they lack trust in themselves to confidently share their expressions for fear of being negatively exposed in some way, particularly in the presence of authority.
The more managers can create a safe and supportive environment to coax and cultivate full expression and self-trust, the more they will unleash young authentic brilliance, from the inside out.
2. Help young people step into other team member’s shoes to break assumptions, boost empathy and soften judgement.
This young woman’s response also reveals that her mind is riddled with anticipation and assumptions about what other people are thinking – an experience that resonates with many of us.
Assumptions hold us back from being present in our work and everyday lives. Our minds have the capacity to race forward or backward in time, which means that we spend a lot of time and energy traveling into the past or into the future with stories about everything and everyone that may or may not be true, forgetting about what’s happening right now.
When we take ourselves out of presence like this and allow our minds to get swept up in judgements, we diminish our capacity to deliver our freshest, most meaningful work.
The more managers can help connect young team members to other team member’s direct experiences, the more understanding and empathy they can develop, and the more powerful the individual and collective impact.
3. Inspire young people to stay focused on “what is” and what has been accomplished to help drive joy and meaning.
We are plagued by distractions that have a negative impact on our attention, energy, and outlook. Two common distractors that I consistently hear from youth are phones and social media. They stir up comparison and jealousy that creep subtly into the workplace. They prevent young people from engaging joyfully and productively with what’s directly in front of them.
Our youth learn from and take their cues from the influential adults in their lives, including their managers. Often, adults forget that young eyes are watching them all the time, modeling their own behaviours and actions after them. It’s important for managers to carve out time where all the phones and screens are put away and everyone celebrates “what is” and what has been accomplished.
The more managers can lead with gratitude and celebration, the more they can teach and inspire young people to stay focused on “what is” and what has been accomplished to help drive joy and meaning as opposed to “what should be”, “might be” or “wish to be”.
Young people are a powerful resource that represents the future of tomorrow, and they need strong role models to help them navigate the choppy waters of their career.
Managers are in a unique position to help them lead with wisdom, empathy, and celebration.