Too Young To Lead: Mantras for a Millennial Boss

January 08, 2017

Too Young To Lead: Mantras for a Millennial Boss

Leadership at a young age can be challenging. Without years of experience, awards and recognitions, and a long list of past clients or customers, it can be difficult to feel empowered enough to take charge and lead. 

If you're a millennial and in the need of a pep-talk, this is for you. 

My first career, in strategy consulting, exposed me to the traditional hierarchical career ladder. New starters begin at the bottom and work their way up, one step at a time. Senior positions are reserved for when you've climbed high enough. 

And, experience is of course invaluable.

But, a mapped out path of the steps you must take to reach a point at which you're a capable leader, is an outdated view of leadership. If you find an opportunity to step into a leadership role, manage others, or be your own boss, don't shy away from a chance to lead because of your age. I had the opportunity to join a leadership team of a large organisation at a young age, and in the beginning I doubted myself. Being responsible for a team and leading people were new experiences to me.

Along the way, I realised I had to boost my confidence to avoid standing in the way of my own success. I had to let go of negative self-talk. Specifically, I developed mantras that I'd repeat to myself when I needed a bit of a boost. I'm sharing these with you, in hope that it might help you realise that, whatever your goals and dreams, you can achieve at any age. 

Scroll down for the 5 mantras that helped me build confidence as a millennial boss.

Up & Atem Sara Kahlau young leader working at desk

"My success is my own and I've earned it"

Whatever goal you're working towards, and whatever milestone you're at now, you got yourself there. If you've just started your first career, taken up a new role with more responsibility, or launched a business - you've worked hard to get there.

Be proud of your own success.

If you're young, this does not detract from your success. In fact, you should see it as a positive that you have achieved everything you have so far at a young age. Stand up tall, be proud, and own your success. But be modest.

"I'm going to work what I've got"

You bring something unique to every discussion, task, and activity. Think about your strengths, and focus on leveraging those. For example, you might not bring decades of experience to a team meeting about strategy, but you might know a lot about digital trends, marketing language for a younger generation, or crowdsourcing funding. And, if you work with people from other generations - you also simply bring a fresh perspective.

Use what you've got. It's all you've got.

You can also think about any weaknesses you want to work on, if they bring insecurity. Reach out to potential mentors and be honest about what you don't know.

"If someone has a problem with my age, it's their problem"

Some people will just look at you differently because of your age. Recognise these behaviours, and then mentally file them away. The problems of others are not yours to solve. The truth is, you can only control your own actions - there is only so much you can do to influence others.

Your best plan of action is to bring your best self to any situation and prove to sceptics that you can add value. It might take time, be patient.

"All experts were once beginners"

If you've ever interacted with someone who seems like they've got it all figured out, think about this: everyone starts from the beginning. No one is born with experience. You can't compare your first go with someone else's 75th.

You are at a different leg of the journey, and potentially travelling a different direction. So stop comparing your newbie self to an expert. 

"It is what it is"

Realise that you are whatever age you are and there is nothing you can do about it. Time will go by however you choose to spend it, so enjoy who you are today and what you can bring to the table as a millennial leader. 

Let any doubts go and own the exciting path you are on. Spending time worrying about something you have no control over is pointless. Lead with confidence, do your best, and gather as much experience as you can along the way. 


Hope these mantras give you a confidence boost. You can add them to your diary, planner, or notebook as motivation for the day or week ahead. Lastly, from one millennial to another - you'll never know what you're capable of until you try. So just give it a go.


The New Executive

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