4 foundational principles for young leaders


Whether you’re a university student who hasn’t figured out what career you want to pursue or a 28-year-old account executive who has achieved many life goals already, these next few years can be some of the most influential times in shaping who you are as a leader.

The other day, I ran across a post from RELEVANT Magazine with 7 Skills to Develop in Your Twenties. As I read through it, I realized that many of the skills are based on principles I’ve used in various leadership roles during my life.

1. How you react to life’s letdowns is everything. Chuck Swindoll’s saying that, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it” is very true. There will be many times as a young leader when things won’t go the way you had planned. Maybe your idea fails or your employers eliminate your position at work. These are situations that every young leader has to face at some point. Learning to react to life’s letdowns is a skill that will serve you well the rest of your life. Each time you get back up, you grow. With each failure comes the opportunity to develop into the best version of yourself.

2. Know enough in your gut to make a gut decision. Most of your university years were spent learning about specific subjects that will prepare you to succeed in whatever industry you pursue. However, one of the most beneficial things you can do as a young leader is to learn as much as you can about different topics. If you studied business, learn a few basic psychology principles on what motivates people. If you studied religion, learn about the things that make up a successful business. As a young leader, there will be times when you’ll be forced to make a decision about something you don’t know a lot about. You can’t be an expert in everything, but knowing enough in your gut about the issue could make the difference in making the right decision or the wrong one.

3. Putting 100 percent of yourself into your work pays off 100 percent of the time. I’m a firm believer that hard work always pays off. “You reap what you sow” is a phrase that will always hold true. Putting 100 percent of yourself into your work is hard, which is why a lot people won’t do it. If you want to be successful and stand out above the rest, always put 100 percent of yourself into your work.

4. Selfishness can potentially destroy any relationship. Whether it’s a marriage, friendship, or co-working relationship, constantly putting your wants and needs first will destroy a relationship faster than anything else. Remember that your network is the key to your success. Learning how to put others before yourself is a principle that will help you gain the love and respect of those around you and become a great leader.

What are some other foundational principles you learned early on that helped you become the leader you are today?