During our last Chick-fil-A Leader Academy meeting, I was approached by the assistant principal of McEachern High School about co-creating a compelling reason for seniors to come to school on what is traditionally “senior skip day.” I am proud to say that this past week we successfully executed the inaugural Senior Summit with over 100 seniors in attendance. My favorite part of the summit was getting to lead the entrepreneurship break out session. One of the students who wants to be an entrepreneur was disgruntled about the leadership at his current job in the fast food industry and the fact that he hasn’t been promoted. I shared with him that I was an employee for over 10 years after high school before I became a full-time entrepreneur.
I challenged him that he must learn how to be a good employee before he can be a good employer one day.
I am very encouraged about the millennial generation (born 1982-2002) but I am also concerned. My friend and mentor Dr. Tim Elmore says “They want to save the world…by noon tomorrow.” Their motives are generally good but their patience is lacking. One of the questions on my application for employment is “where do you see yourself a year from now?” I can’t help but laugh when I read “the General Manager” or “in charge.”
I love their passion and drive, but their confidence is often pre-mature, most likely because they are used to getting a trophy for just showing up. I challenged these students to think differently about being an employee in this stage of their life. I shared a key leadership lesson I learned from one of my instructors at West Point about having two virtual “kit bags” (visualize an imaginary book back in each hand). One bag is for all the good leadership traits that you observe and the other is for all of the bad ones. When it’s your opportunity to lead, you can figuratively dump out both bags and be reminded of what “to do” and what “not to do.” Many of the students seemed to get it when I said…If you have a bad boss, you should be thankful you are learning what “not to do” as a leader.
It’s all about perspective and seeing value even in a bad situation. Leaders are life-long learners and are always observing and taking notes on what leadership traits to emulate as well as elude.
Has this changed your perspective about bad leadership and how it can help you become a better leader for others?