Twenty Something Leaders – You’re Not Too Young To Lead

To accomplish something we have never accomplished before, we have to start doing things we have never done before.
Written by Dave Anderson on Dec 28, 2017
Twenty Something Leaders – You’re Not Too Young To Lead


If you are Twenty-Something years old, the time to begin leading is NOW! Too many of us in the older generations sat back and waited. Many of us thought because of our lack of age or experience, our only job was to follow. That attitude has created a leadership void in businesses and in society today. But you Twenty-Something Leaders can fix that!

This is the first in a series of blogs written directly to the Twenty-Somethings. This is about you and your future. This series is the beginning of a quest. 

It is my quest is to help get you ready to lead today, tomorrow, and for decades to come. I will post a new blog weekly. Right now I have a series of 10 blogs planned. As you read these blogs, please share them with other people who want ideas on how to lead now and how to develop the Twenty-Something Leaders of our future.

The Current Problem for Twenty-Something Leaders

In organizations throughout our society, we have incredibly gifted 20 – 30 year olds who are treading water. Meanwhile the 30 – 70 year olds who are leading those organizations complain about the the younger generations not moving forward.

This is not a generational issue between Millenials and Generation X or the Baby Boomers. This is a issue that repeats itself generation after generation.

I am old enough to remember sitting in corporate meetings as people complained about young Generation X entering the workforce. And, I am sure the Greatest Generation didn’t feel really confident in the leadership ability of the Baby Boomers after watching what happened at Woodstock!

In fact, the current problem is a very old problem that we never seem to adequately address.

We don’t adequately prepare the Twenty-Somethings for leadership.

We do it again and again. We educate people in college for their entry level jobs. Once we hire them, we train them in job specific competencies for that entry level job. Finally, we promote the best performers of the group to a management role and expect these Twenty-Something Leadersto be ready to lead.

Few high schools or colleges make leadership a core part of their curriculum. Even fewer businesses deliberately focus on the developing the leadership abilities of the Twenty-Somethingsbefore they get into leadership. In fact, most leadership development efforts occur AFTER someone is already leading people!

The current problem is the same old problem we have had for years. It has nothing to do with the generational differences implied with the generational titles we give the newer generations. It’s what we have always done with Twenty-Something Leaders.

A Change in Focus

To accomplish something we have never accomplished before, we have to start doing things we have never done before.

The system we have today is the same system that’s been used decade after decade. The problem lies in two places.

  1. Organizations wait to train people for leadership jobs until after they get the promotion into a leadership position.
  2. Individuals believe they must wait to lead and wait for someone else to invest in their growth.

Organizationally, the mindset needs to change. You don’t microwave leaders – you crock pot them. A one time or even one week management course after someone gets promoted is not going to do the job. We all know that intuitively and through experience. But the system in many organizations is just too ingrained to change that.

I have been working to change organizational level leader development for years, and I will continue to fight that fight. But I am going to change directions for awhile.

The Future Solution for Twenty-Something Leaders

Individually, the Twenty-Something Leaders must take control of their own preparations for leadership. In order to do that, they need resourses. 

You are now reading my first attempt at providing those resources to this age group. This blog series is just the beginning.

The Bottom Line:

If you are like me and not in your twenties, it is our responsibility to prepare the Twenty-Somethingsfor leadership.

  • Are we waiting for them to get promoted and then revealing the leadership lessons we have already learned?
  • Or are we proactively getting them ready for the leadership assignments to come?

If you are 20 – 30 years old, it is your responsibility to prepare yourself for leadership.

  • Are you waiting for other people to get you ready? 
  • Or are you taking control of your own growth and asking for mentoring and educating yourself in preparation for the leadership role you aspire to hold?

The Twenty-Somethings are not too young to lead. In fact it is vital that they begin leading now, in order to learn important lessons of leadership in their twenties. If they do that, they will be at least a decade ahead of the rest of us!

How can a Twenty-Something begin leading today? That is what we will cover in our next blog in this Twenty-Something Leadership Series.

Help me answer the needs of Twenty-Somethings who aspire to be leaders. 


By Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is coauthor of Becoming a Leader of Character – Six Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home with his father General James L. Anderson (USA Retired).

Photo courtesy of author