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Leading from Within: Strategies for Leading Effectively at an Early Career Stage

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Millennials, who have been the predominant force in the workforce over the past decade, are now passing the torch to the next generation – Generation Z. Recognizing the shift, companies are realizing the importance of implementing a robust and effective early career talent development program to cultivate future leaders from within. Successful young leaders have the potential to not only make a significant impact on the world but also to experience personal and professional growth. The continual enhancement of leadership skills over time is a fundamental principle for outstanding leaders. While some young leaders may perceive their age as a hindrance, it's crucial not to view youth as a barrier to leadership but rather as an opportunity to bring a unique perspective to the table, fostering a different kind of leadership.

Here are some of the best ways that you can adopt and grow your leadership skill at an early career stage:

1. Great leadership starts with self-awareness

It all starts with you. To be an effective leader, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of yourself: What motivates you? What are your priorities, values, and strengths? Developing self-awareness enables you to recognize your shortcomings and hidden biases, fostering trust among your team and establishing your credibility. Accomplished leaders acknowledge their innate tendencies and leverage this knowledge to either reinforce or compensate for them. Evaluate whether to harness a personality trait for your benefit and when it's prudent to refrain from doing so.

2. Totally mind-growing – The learning mindset

Every leader, particularly those new to leadership roles, should be motivated to cultivate a culture of continuous learning and inspire their team to do the same. Such a culture not only has advantages like heightened staff retention, happiness, and engagement but is also inherently beneficial. Essential elements of a positive learning culture include proficient skills in providing and receiving feedback. Aspiring leaders can nurture an environment where colleagues consistently offer and receive feedback by incorporating it as a regular aspect of the work routine. A culture focused on perpetual development and enhancement should fundamentally incorporate a commitment to feedback.

3. Becoming a strategist – The strategic thinking approach

Chess enthusiasts understand that winning requires outsmarting their adversary through forward-thinking. Anticipating several moves in advance is essential, predicting both their own and their opponent's future actions before making a move. This strategic thinking skill is equally crucial for young leaders. Strategic thinking allows effective planning, enabling leaders to prepare for various scenarios such as team dynamics, emerging issues, prospects for progress, or the entry of new competitors into the market. Though leadership styles vary, possessing strategic thinking skills is a prerequisite for effective strategic leadership.

4. Embrace challenges

Confronting challenges directly might not be a simple task, but it serves as a valuable method for building character and resilience. Numerous exceptional leaders exhibit a fearless demeanor that motivates them to confront and derive lessons from adversities. Having the assurance to express your thoughts and engage in constructive self-challenge with an open mind and curiosity is essential. Recognizing that certain aspects of life are beyond our control is vital for personal development, both in professional and personal spheres. Developing the ability to navigate challenging situations without succumbing to defeat can profoundly influence our interactions with others and our own well-being.

5. Seek opportunity for growth

Now is the time to actively seek opportunities for advancing your education and enhancing your skills if you haven't yet realized the benefits of professional development. As a leader, it's essential to consistently identify talent and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, as many of them are striving for personal growth. Demonstrating this commitment will earn you increased respect and trust from your team, regardless of your age. Cultivate an environment where you can invest in your own development, truly prioritizing growth. Dedicate time to reading and engaging with knowledgeable individuals. Investing in yourself pays off, as feeling good about yourself propels you to work hard, achieve, and continually evolve.

Source: HRWorld Southeast Asia

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