Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advice for Young Managers and Leaders

I once was one. I was honored to be given responsibility while still in college. Early in my career, I was promoted after 9 months, and within a few years transferred to another company in which my department was two-thirds guys near retirement age. (And that's another story about rotating shifts...)

I was fortunate to work with some strong managers early in my career who would correct me gently in my youthful exuberance. But the best advice I got was from the letters of Paul to a much younger leader, Timothy, whom Paul put in charge of several churches. I don't know if Timothy had had any leadership experience before. However, he was placed in communities where there would be much older men, some of whom may have had military experience, or been running a large household with servants, and their own businesses. Some would have been servants (and in the early Common Era, slaves) who would recognize good and bad leadership. Definitely, the women would have recognized if Timothy was the right kind of leader or not. Timothy's challenge included correcting bad policies and behaviors in some of these older colleagues. Building organizations from scratch also, Timothy had to find and train additional leaders. (Almost like the blind leading the blind...)

Paul himself had been a young leader, to the point of being radical. Later, his radical bent was not tamed; he still caused great changes within the organization he was a member, and overturned the status quo of the communities and the competition. However, Paul seemed to work harder at relationships as he matured in years.

What was Paul's advice? [Quoted with amplification by the blogger...]

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the [others] in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I (Paul) come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching [Timothy's job description]. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you [be assured by the confidence that others have placed in you and when they promoted you]. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress [recognize that you're still learning because others know you don't know it all yet]. Watch your life and your doctrine closely [walk the talk, and make sure your walking the right talk]. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yoursefl and [the others in your organization]. [Remember you serve them too so love them as you love yourself...]. Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity [treat everyone with respect and honor]..."

By golly, this is stilll good advice for me thirty years later...

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