Whether you are a church, business, sports team or non-profit, adding talented young leaders to your team is a necessity for having sustainable success.  Successful organizations should always be green and growing.  But what do you look for in young leaders?

Colin Cowherd of ESPN hosts the smartest sports show on radio.  On April 25th, The Herd With Colin Cowherd had Monday Night Football host Jon Gruden as a guest.

During his interview with Cowherd, Gruden went into great depth about what he looks for in a young quarterback to lead his team.  As Gruden spoke, I gleaned 9 Things Every Young Leader Must Have which would benefit you regardless of where you work or serve.

  1. Young Leaders Must Have The Intangibles – Intangibles is a euphemism for “I don’t exactley know what I’m looking for but I’ll know it when I see it.”  Gruden looks for, “Communication skills, passion for the game, (they) look you in the eye, just the way they sit in their chair, do they take notes, how much does it bother them that I say something they may not agree with.”
  2. Young Leaders Must Have Ownership Of Results – Gruden says, “These quarterbacks today have to be the best coaches on your staff because with the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) these quarterbacks have to run practice.  They have to call their teammates and orchestrate passing events…The time a coach can spend with them is limited so you have to find a quarterback who has passion, communication, drive and you can find that out quickly.”
  3. Young Leaders Must Have Competence – Intelligence is an attractive quality for young leaders to have.  When remembering his initial meeting with Andrew Luck, Gruden said, “He just walked in the door and he oozes everything you’re looking for.  You see the size.  You see the look in his eye.  And when he opens his mouth you know exactly what he’s talking about.”
  4. Young Leaders Must Have Big Picture Thinking – Young leaders advance faster by placing organizational success above personal success.  Luck “sees the game clearly.  He has a real feel for the sport and he has a big picture.  He knows what the left tackle’s thinking, what the right defensive end is doing.  This is a man that sees the field unlike many guys I’ve ever met.”
  5. Young Leaders Must Have Limited Mistakes – Young leaders should not be afraid to make mistakes.  Just do not make unnecessary mistakes.  Gruden said, “If you look at some of the great quarterbacks today – Tom Brady – if you took a look at the hit chart of his completions, you’d be shocked at how many are 10 yards or less.”
  6. Young Leaders Must Have Confidence – Confidence flows from preparation and a healthy memory.  Gruden continues, “I want confidence.  I want that to ooze out of my quarterback.  I don’t want it to be unrealistic either.”
  7. Young Leaders Must Have Some Seasoning – Leverage the experience you do have.  Gruden notes, “The three 5th-year seniors – Derek Carr, Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron – they’re at a different level (than underclassman) in terms of maturity, experience, all the things that come with being 22 or 23-years-old.”
  8. Young Leaders Must Have People Who Invest In Their Success – Young leaders should look for experienced leaders who realize the value they can bring.  When the Green Bay Packers traded for Brett Favre, head coach Mike Holmgren said, “We’re gonna make Favre our guy.  If he’s successful, we’re successful.  If he’s not successful, we won’t be here long.  I want everyone to support this kid and do everything to make him successful.”
  9. Young Leaders Must Have A Stable Organization In Which To Thrive – Continuity and stability are critical for the long-term development of young leaders.  Gruden gives us a sobering truth, “There’s 23 new offensive coordinators this year…The process starts over and over.  But when you watch Brady, Manning, Brees, system continuity pays huge dividends…These young quarterbacks if they find it, they’ll flourish.  If not, they’ll struggle.”

Intangibles, Ownership, Competence, Big Picture Thinking, Limited Mistakes, Confidence, Some Seasoning, People Who Invest In Your Success and Organizational Stability.  If you have these nine qualities, you will be a very successful young leader.


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