How to Recognize a Strong Leader in a Young Employee


The world is constantly changing, and the young people are changing along with it. They are hard to understand, hard to work with and can doubtfully be trusted with managing posts. How to work with young managers? What young employees should you promote and whom can you give an opportunity to prove themselves? These are the questions (and many more similar ones) every top manager asks himself or herself. We are going to discuss these questions and try to find answers to them in this article.

Young managers - who are they?

Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have classified us into groups and characterized them long ago. All past, present and future generations have certain qualities, peculiar only to them. Discussing the young managers, we are talking about a person who was born from 1983 to 2003, that is the Y generation. These people are the today’s young: they are looking for a job and trying to make a career. To understand them, let’s define their main working traits.

The Y generation doesn’t plan far ahead, they like to live here and now and don’t aspire to a long-term career. They like specific projects with strictly set goals and terms. They prefer not to rule but to involve people in their team by motivating them with interesting tasks and the opportunity to be creative. People of the Y generation appreciate the expert career and the opportunity to get new knowledge - they like and can learn. Moreover, they like to teach and share their knowledge. Y-people welcome innovations and dislike administrative barriers that hinder changes. Despite their seeming infantility, people of this generation can count and also remember about the material reward for their efforts. They are careful about what is called the work/life balance and won’t sacrifice their free time, especially if they are not satisfied with the financial conditions. They don’t understand slogans like “You must!”, they don’t like rushes and big extra efforts.

The main motivation for Y-people will be interest, comfort, the absence of pressure and control in details, very often social and (or) ecological meaning of the work, the opportunity to see the result of their efforts and public approval.

Young managers - what are they like?

Someone gets a special education in business, someone is gifted with managerial abilities. The point is the desire to become successful and efficient managers and readiness to work hard for it.

Your future manager, for now, a highly potential employee, will attract your attention with his or her attitude to work, to you, with his or her position in the team, and his or her involvement. He or she is interested in global goals and certain results, in KPI, both personal and of people whom he or she is teaming with. He or she can suggest innovations that will increase the effectiveness of work, can suggest himself or herself for the realization of a small project that will be useful for the whole company in general and certain people in particular.

Look closer at the ways he or she interacts with the others. Most probably, others often ask him or her for help, he or she takes newcomers under his or her wing, initiates informal activities.

Considering all the variety of manager competencies, described in various sources, I would like to point out some most important ones, without which, according to my experience, it is hard to become an effective and happy leader. Analyze all your young employees for these qualities. The more of these competencies the young employee has, obviously, the more perspective he or she is.

  • A harmonious balance between the business approach and the corporate discipline (the reasonable acceptance of the company’s policies and rules)

  • Strategic thinking, or the “helicopter view” (the ability to have a wider view of events, make decisions, predict their consequences and not to miss details).

  • Teamwork - the focus on achieving results by the team, pride of the team result, and also the ability to lead the team and join the work at any moment.

  • The ability and the wish to delegate, teach and improve people, share experience and learn from the members of the team.

  • The readiness to take the responsibility, the courage in making decisions.

  • The ability to organize, motivate and influence; the sense of priorities, the ability to manage the time and tasks.


Young managers - how to work with them?

I am sure that the potential manager is already among your millennials. As we agreed above, you have analyzed your employees for having the necessary competencies.Now it is the time to give them a little jump-start - the motivation to move forward.

I must admit, the Y generation is really good managers: democratic, with the power of persuasion and argumentation, but not very stress-resistant and lacking “political” ambitions.

  1. They appreciate the support. Young managers often need the support of more sophisticated, sometimes older employees, hardened in administrative battles. Y-people will accept the mentor, especially if he or she will teach, trust and help in what they are poor at - at routine, politics, formal procedures.

  2. They appreciate trust. At the beginning, it may be an interesting project that can be realized, first of all, with the intellectual efforts and that doesn’t suppose a simple, routine solution. Over time, their range of responsibilities can be expanded. But at the same time, it is important to monitor if their interest is not lost, if the task is difficult enough, and if a certain direct measurable result can be achieved.

  3. They appreciate responsibility. Be ready that the type of the interim reporting must be accepted, understood and sometimes even suggested by your young manager, and most probably he or she will limit your control. The mutual trust should always be the basis of your relations with the manager. If you start to control his or her every step, he or she may lose the interest in work and make it apparent for his or her team. Let him or her prove himself or herself because you have been keeping an eye on the manager and chose him or her for this role for this particular reason.

Controlling a young manager of the Y generation can be a hard task, but these very managers can lead the company to the new decisions, improve their subordinates and unite the colleagues. It is time to admit that they are our future.