Below, Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd:
The best kept secret of American government and politics is that it powered by the enthusiasm, passion and over-drive of young professionals. And it’s no secret at all. Year after year, you see the swarm in Washington, DC.
Start ups too are mostly about young professionals and twenty something dreamers who can give everything they got. They tend not to have families or mortgages that chain them down. And multinationals can’t exploit them enough in emerging economies.
Bright, young professionals are the greatest asset to the organization that can channel their energy and passion to creative, innovative and productive purpose.
It’s cat herding at its best. And it can be an extreme challenge – especially if you are focused on processes and technology rather than people.
Moreover, not all young professionals are equal. Identifying those with a leader’s heart early (and coaching them) is critical to moving the herd in the direction of success and results. They are the golden key.
Of course, the future has to be bright. Meaningful. Most bright, young professionals have such expectations. They have something to prove and they want to be where they can prove it to mom, dad, love, friends, and the world.
In general, young professionals tend to be overly concerned about their work conditions, adequate resources and what they need to do their work, better and faster. They usually know what they need and they get easily distracted if they don’t get it. Even diamonds in the rough.
Bright, young professionals need inspiring leadership, enthusiastic managers, just enough structure, professional formation, and the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed. They want all these things. And more.
Diamonds in the rough
Among those young professionals that do not demonstrate reckless ambition, there are the diamonds in the rough. You may recognize them by their quiet, consistent contributions through a consulting role to internal brand, brand, process, technology and culture. Identifying them and providing them with the resources and training that they need is critical to the sustainability of the enterprise.
Unfortunately, such resources tend to not be available in start ups. In a large organization, they get lost in the harvest haystack. Like a handful of needles. Generally speaking, the diamonds in the rough tend be exploited by their ego-centric colleagues and managers until lack of opportunity, recognition and/or reward becomes apathy, embitterment or counter-productive.
It doesn’t have to go down like this. But it will take great managers to spot them and great leaders to coach (or mentor) them. Dr. Jack King at the Northfolk Center may be able to help you in such endeavor.
Who has the heart of a leader?
That is the question to be asked when looking for the young professional who should be groomed as a leader.
Suits and sneakers
The more ego-centric among young professionals that “appear” to demonstrate obvious characteristics of leadership tend to pursue position for the sake of their own advantage – even to the disadvantage of peers, colleagues and team members. It should come as no surprise that their ambitious pursuit of personal advantage will put the organization at risk in one or many ways- if given the opportunity.
Unfortunately, purely self-serving ambitions can be difficult to detect. And, do not be mistaken in the belief they can be cured. They can’t. Such persons tend to climb the ladder – wherever they are. They are the ones often described as having gumption, get up and go, and fire in the belly.
It’s all show.
Young professionals who seek position for personal advantage and gain are often identified by their reluctance to assume deep responsibility, share the glory, and give public props to talent on their team. It’s often the kid trying (daily or weekly) to win the popularity or cool contest in the office- when what they should be doing is the work.
If they ever rise to the top, they will become a manager that is overly-dependent on consultants, expertise, and outsourcing. Perhaps, co-dependent. You get the picture.
A Leader’s Heart
Young professionals who have the heart of a leader assume deep responsibility for their work, their team, and the success of the organization. They take pride in the same. They walk the many extra miles. They go the distance.
While it’s not mostly about the pay or promotion, you do have to keep them engaged.
Those with the heart of a leader will be concerned about people- often stubbornly concerned in affairs that do not directly effect them. They will serve others. They will speak out against unfair or misunderstood policies and practices. They will even mediate issues – if given the opportunity.
More importantly, the light of a leader’s heart will shine out across time, projects and teams. A year of true leadership behavior is a good indicator, but mileage will vary.
But a leader’s heart alone is not enough to bring boons.
That heart must be connected to a bright mind. And a bright mind must connect the dots of people, mission, and vision. There is a need for the kind of coaching that guides, stimulates and validates the dot connecting. And, perhaps, mentors – if the organization can afford such investments and liabilities.
Are you making bright, young professionals your organization’s greatest asset?
March 26, 2010
About Stan Faryna
Mr. Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.
Stan Faryna served as a Global Voices author and translator. Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.
His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.
Mr. Faryna also served as editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Copyright 1996 to 2009 by Stan Faryna.
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