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Young leadership: 4 lessons from a winner

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Working your way to a managerial position at a young age is in itself a huge achievement. To do so requires hard-work and dedication, a number of notable professional accomplishments, and winning the respect and support of your colleagues.

However, making a success of the transition to a management role is probably the greatest challenge. It is a hard skill to master, and young managers often have to overcome the additional hurdle of being viewed by age-sceptics in their organisations as ‘less experienced’ so we are pleased to support initiatives that recognise their valuable role.

This year, Hays once again sponsored the Young Manager of the Year Award at the 2016 Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Annual Awards for Excellence. This award is for outstanding achievement in any of the functions relating to the management of logistics and transport, above and beyond what is normally expected from managers of this age and experience.

The winner of this year’s award was Josh Start, Head of Colnbrook Logistics Centre (CLC) at the Heathrow Logistics Integrator (HLI) organisation, provided to Heathrow Airport by Wilson James. Josh’s many accomplishments – which now include being an award-winner – reveal a number of useful and actionable pointers for those aspiring to become young leaders.

1. Get stuck-in

One of the first things Josh’s employer stated about his managerial approach was: “Remaining in his office would be one way to run the HLI’s operations, but that’s not [his] style. He is regularly seen out on the ground supporting his staff by day or night, keeping abreast of actual working conditions.” An effective manager is proactive and present, involved and invested. They keep communication lines open with their team, understand the challenges their staff face and lead by example.

2. Management is a science…

Good managers should hone their technical skills, in order to be viewed not merely as coordinators of tasks, but as knowledge leaders. In one such instance, Josh was able to utilise Kaizen and Lean 6S in order to generate savings. Possessing and applying technical skills is vital in order to add real value and set a young manager apart.

3. …and an art

However, an effective manager should also possess outstanding people skills. Josh’s employer stated that “it was pleasure to observe how he educates and guides junior managers and supervisors”, and that he works “through issues with lower level employees who have much to offer, but are often intimidated by formal business improvement techniques.” In order to get the best out of a team, it is crucial a manager understands their motivations and concerns. By learning how best to support them, you can increase their productivity.

4. Be a strategic change driver

It is often assumed that one of the benefits of a young manager is that they will act as a ‘breath of fresh air’, brimming with countless new ideas. In reality, it is not advisable to enter a new role and immediately attempt to make drastic changes for the sake of it. Change should instead be strategic, improving processes only where problems have been identified, and, as Josh did, clearly communicated to the wider team in order to generate buy-in.

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If you are looking to take the next step on your career path please get in touch with your local recruitment expert.

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