Three Things to (Re)Learn from Wise Young Managers

I recently wrapped up the annual AlumniCorps Emerging Leaders program I lead for rising nonprofit managers. Over eight months, the cohort members learn about their own leadership and discover what is most important. Today I feature some of the culminating lessons they shared, along with my own elaboration.

Don’t Wait to Ask… for what will help you.

“I am not particularly good at or comfortable asking for help…. I learned I need to be more consistent in asking for my needs. Many times I wait for the right moment, and of course that right moment never comes.”  We do not like to ask for help that could be very useful – whether it is guidance, information, other viewpoints, or more resources. Yet asking for what we need gets more work done well by more people, amplifying our impact.  Instead of viewing questions as a sign of weakness view them as invitations to help advance toward a goal.

Don’t Wait to Give… what you have that can help others.

“Even highly motivated, competent leaders need guidance [from others sometimes…] I need to take ownership of my own expertise when appropriate.”  We can generously but selectively deploy our knowledge to help and influence others, even when they do not ask for it.  We just need to get the “how” right, and then be ok when our input is not always embraced.  As a different form of giving, an Emerging Leader noted, “My project has given me a lot of power and trust within the organization that I am now actively sharing with others…I hope to continue to practice this [as I have increasing power] – and relinquish power to make space for others.”

Don’t Wait to Get… involved in ways that scale your value.

“Building allies and talking to folks on my leadership team facilitated the strategy being received well by the broader team… I should continue to push myself to share my ideas and workshop them with others.” When we speak a bit more boldly and insert ourselves in useful ways, we can find more connections, vet more ideas, and stretch our roles. Even “insertions” that are not successful, if done with care, can cultivate joint learning and collaboration.

I challenge you to invent your own specific ways to proactively ask for, give and get more value.  Taken together, these three types of “moves” embody a nice balance of confidence, conviction, and humility.