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The young entrepreneur’s guide to leadership

7 min read

16 April 2015

As a young entrepreneur, business owner or manager, it can be difficult to be taken seriously. Here are some tips that will help you to lead effectively.

Do young people make good leaders? How can they when they are still learning? 

The truth is, we are all still growing and evolving. You could be 50 years old and be a terrible leader.

Leadership is not defined by age – it is defined by the ability to lead and motivate others to produce a winning team. 

A good team

You can only be as strong as your team. Great teammates who believe in you will bring out the best leader in you. In order to select a good team, you must know the skills required to get the job done. Often, it is not the most qualified that make good team members. It is those who are passionate and committed to the cause.

In my opinion, it is 40 per cent qualifications/ability and 60 per cent passion and commitment. Select teammates who are smarter than you and who know their role inside-out. Select team mates who are passionate. This will make leading much easier. If the team was put in place before you took your role, motivate them. Take them on away days and get them totally fired up and on board.

A good plan

No one can lead without a good plan. Planning is essential in leadership. You need to plan for the day-to-day activities and you need to plan for things that don’t go to plan.

Planning should always be linked to the vision of what you are trying to achieve. The plan does not have to be in a vernacular that you do not understand. Make the plan legible. Make it actionable, and set performance indicators to ensure that you are on target.

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A good strategy

Yes, I know that this is linked to planning. The plan is the roadmap. The strategy is the vehicle that you will use to get there. Every good leader needs a strategy, but the great thing is, you don’t need to create the strategy. That is why you have a team.

You create the plan, and your team are responsible for creating and driving the strategy. Your role as the leader is to ensure that the strategy is working and is delivered on time.

Continue reading on the next page to understand why a leader also needs to be a listener and a follower with style.

A good listener

Great leaders are great listeners. The best leaders will listen to their team and address issues accordingly. They will have the foresight to see issues before they arise because they will be well connected with their team. You don’t need to lead by coercion. Yes, people need to know that you are the head. That does not mean micro-managing and wearing a sign that says “bow down, I’m in charge here.” You can lead effectively and brilliantly by being part of the team. Humility is key. 

I have seen a number of leaders lose the support of their team because of arrogance and self-importance. That benefits no one. You are all there to win. Take the time to listen to your team. Support them, and make the appropriate judgement calls when necessary. 

A good follower

In order to be a good leader, you must be a good follower. It sounds clichéd, but it is true. True leaders serve. In order to learn to serve, you need to be a good follower. It is at that level that you get the opportunity to learn about different mentalities and how to overcome them.

I learned several things when I served at the Savoy Hotel as an employee. I listened to how people spoke about management. I heard some of their complaints, but I also learned how to overcome them. People sometimes look down on people that work in supermarkets and at fast food restaurants. I have nothing but respect for them. 

Look for opportunities where you can follow. This could be through a mentorship, in sports or in any other field. It’s good to be a leader, but never stop being a follower too.

A good style

I love being a young leader. I think we have the opportunity to bring fresh ideas and literally disrupt the status quo in a positive sense. People will respect good leaders – whether they are young or old. It all comes down to style. 

Treat people with respect, and you can lead them to do anything, even people who may be stuck in their ways. Talk down to people and treat them like garbage, and you will lose them. It is easy to let things go to your head when you are put in a position of authority. Don’t. Lead with confidence. Lead with humility. Lead with grace, and watch your team soar.

Image: Shutterstock.

Stuart is the founder of Stuart Maitland Holdings, a company which includes an accessories business, a chauffeur company and a property company. He has won a number of business awards, including Westminster’s Youngest Entrepreneur in 2013. 

In February 2014, Stuart became the chairman for Young Enterprise. He currently overseas 17 board members and 22 business advisors over the London Boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington and Camden.

Maitland currently has several business investments of his own, and he has become involved a lot more with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academies where he speaks to students and helps with business surgeries. He has achieved a lot, and is only 21.