Mentoring Gen Y Emerging Leaders
The following was a list of suggestions sent to me by Jamie and Darci Kidd, themselves emerging leaders in the Millennial generation (Gen Y). If you are being asked to lead or mentor members of this generation you would do well to pay attention to these suggestions.
- Don’t come across as if you have it all together. This platform doesn’t work with today’s younger leaders. They know that you are more mature, more experienced, and have more knowledge. Still, the attitude of being the “expert” just isn’t appealing.
- Be transparent. Be real. Share how you are still on the journey. Share what the Lord is teaching you today, this week, this month, over the past six months. It is not just your weaknesses or failures, either. The key is they want to see that you are still learning as well. That you are a fellow-journey-er. That you are still in process.
- Be his/her fan when they share new ideas (unless it’s way off the wall). Then help them bring it about or at least keep up with them on how it is coming – “How’s that idea coming along?” The tendency for older mentors is that they come back with a response like, “Oh, we tried that a few years ago. It didn’t work. I don’t think it will work now.” This really de-motivates the younger leader. It is better to believe in them and help them make a go of it, even if they fail, than to kill the idea up front. Ask them for their ideas about things.
- Don’t ever give up on them. Just about everyone has had a significant older person (dad, mom, coach, teacher) give up on him or her. Be willing to walk with them through the dark phases of their growth and maturing. There are many who won’t fit the “profile” of the leader with the “right stuff.” They may ask difficult or controversial questions. Stick with them. With the number of broken homes today, many of the younger leaders are saying/asking, “My dad gave up on me. Will you do the same?” They view the relationship not so much as a teacher/student but more as a dad/son or mom/daughter.
- It’s good for the older person to initiate a meeting as well. This communicates value. Have an idea of why you want to meet with them. By saying, “The reason I wanted to meet with you is that I’m thinking of exploring this topic and was wondering if you would be interested in joining me in that?” you are inviting them into your adventure of exploration. This way, you can learn from each other. This helps close the generation gap.
- Get beyond the formalized meetings (meeting at the coffee shop, for example) at some point. Get them into your world – family, sports, hobbies, travel, etc.
- Young men today are part of a passive culture. This is not just an issue of temperament. Many young men don’t have dads who are good role-models for them. Their dads are either absent or passive themselves. The best way to help them with this is to put them in leadership opportunities and coach them through it. Being entrusted with real responsibility and with others is empowering. God made all men to be leaders of one sort or another. It’s in them. Help bring it out.
How’s your understanding and mentoring of the rising generation of emerging leaders from Gen Y? Don’t let the seeming distance or dissonance discourage you from initiating a mentoring relationship that will launch a young leader into a lifetime of influence.