“We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates, and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.” -- Navy SEAL Creed

My first combat mission with my Navy SEAL platoon was to secure a hydroelectric power plant in Northern Iraq. My role on this mission was to guide the helicopter pilots over the landing zone and manage the fast rope insertion for our assault team. At the time, I thought this was a lot of responsibility for a new guy. What I figured out after we nailed our landing, and after many other successful missions, is that age has very little to do with leadership ability.

The SEAL Teams are a relatively flat organization. Everyone goes through the same grueling training, and everyone is trained to lead regardless of age or rank. In the business world, emergent leadership is about team members taking the initiative to accept more responsibility and perform work outside of their general roles. If we, as leaders, encourage and promote this type of drive, our young team members will be ready to rise within the organization, and our companies will be better off for it.

Here are four ways we can prepare our young people for leadership:

Showcase their talent.
Manage them, not their work.
Let them fail. 
Link their effort to tangible results.

Let’s encourage our young team members and provide them the resources for success. If we can build our emerging leadership teams from loyal employees who started at the bottom, then our companies will be stronger and have a more loyal foundation for growth. 

Published on: Jan 11, 2013
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