Creating Leaders out of Your Young Managers

June 14, 2019

Leadership is much more than a position title and is not granted solely based on merit or the size of your paycheck. Leaders must embody characteristics that reach beyond the scope of their duties; I’m learning that this is called ‘character authority’ or leading with character. For a manager to lead a team effectively they must not only have leadership characteristics shine through the weeds of a Friday night dinner rush, but also manifest while living their personal life, off the clock. Many people wonder what qualities and characteristics are most paramount in becoming a successful leader. The truth is that the most basic human qualities mold true leaders: having passion and a commitment to your task; displaying honesty and integrity to those with whom you speak; and pursuing innovation in your own endeavors while inspiring others to follow suit.

For more experienced managers to cultivate young leaders they must be able to accurately evaluate the strengths and weakness of a young manager and then do their best to create an environment that encourages growth. In this environment, upper management acting as a mentor can personalize their approach to build upon and celebrate the individual’s strengths and identify growth opportunities to aide in developing the employee into a manager by helping him/her achieve their personal goals as well.
One important characteristic that true leaders share is the ability to provide and receive constructive feedback. At RCS, we spend a lot of time discussing strategies to motivate Millennial members to join clubs and now we are also exploring how to motivate the next generation to lead. The next generation has invaluable input into how potential members live and work; they may be the key to solving the labor shortage as noted above and they can help us all learn how to leverage technology in our day-to-day work.
Millennials and Generation Z, the upcoming generation entering the workplace, crave feedback to stay motivated in their industry. No one does their job perfectly and an experienced leader will be able to coach others to a higher level of achievement by providing constructive feedback. Feedback can be given most effectively to the upcoming generations through one-on-one meetings, teaching by example, and having a young manager take notes and observe the way you want it to be done. Email and other forms of electronic communication are great ways to quickly relay your message but it’s important to also follow-up in person. You will be able to confirm your instructions and feedback are understood in the manner you intended.
Passion and Commitment:
Your team; from the ground up, look to the manager – you - for guidance and as an example of the behavior you expect. If you want them to give their all, be passionate about the message you are sending. If you are trying to make your young managers more passionate about their job; it’s helpful to reinforce the larger positive impact their work is having on membership, guests, and staff. Additionally, introduce a culture that allows for risks to be taken and relinquish perfectionism, which isn’t attainable. Pursuing excellence is different than suffering for it. If young managers are provided the resources to stay current and engaged in the industry, they will be better positioned to be a leader in the industry.
Honesty and Integrity:
As a management intern last summer at Kiawah Island Club, my direct manager John Durante; then Aquatics Director, now Sports Pavilion Manager, told me that in order to earn the respect of the staff I had to prove I could handle the day-to-day tasks with them. No one was going to respect my voice if I couldn’t hold my weight. This meant sweating it out early in the morning placing 200 chairs and 100 umbrellas on the beach, cleaning the locker rooms, and folding towels. I would always offer the staff a water break before taking my own to show them they were a valuable member of the team. As a mentor, he gave me the right experiences and allowed me to struggle a little (with guidance) so I could become a better employee and find common ground with the young staff I was managing.
Through this experience, John created an ownership mentality in me. I was very receptive to his coaching style because of my background in sports; that was something John recognized by getting to know me and understanding my aspirations and motivation for taking a management internship. As the summer went on, John guided me and gave me the authority to make decisions for the staff and would empower me to develop my decision-making capabilities further. While some of my decisions were admittedly “learning experiences,” he stood by my side boosting my confidence and that feeling made me work harder each day. He showed me how to turn a setback into a comeback and take ownership of a situation not playing out as anticipated.
Learning from his management and leadership style I developed a personal mantra to wake up with: “Work as hard as you can today, in order to make tomorrow the easiest day of the week. Repeat that every day.” Mistakes are a learning opportunity. Allowing a young leader enough autonomy to make decisions but enough of a ‘safety net’ so they can learn without doing damage to the member, the team or themselves is key to their personal development and self-confidence.
Pursuing Innovation while Inspiring Others:
The late visionary and co-founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs said, “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In this fast-paced world we live, creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes you stand out from the crowd. Innovation must be aligned with your organization’s priorities and solve a problem or fulfill a real need. Blindly pursuing new creative paths without establishing a strategy will blur the lines of productivity and can negatively impact the organization’s goals. A seasoned leader can encourage innovative thinking and inspire young managers by assigning them a task and staying with them as they hypothesize and implement innovative solutions. Asking a question like “what would you do?” and more importantly, listening to understand their thought process, will test their creative thinking and problem-solving ingenuity.