EP Guest Post - Carolyn Innis - FEATURE

…who feels in over her head- I’ve been there.

I was green…I mean, as green as they come when I started my first significant leadership role in an organization. I was called into the CEO’s office at 23 years old and heard him pour over the details of the opportunity- managing a large team, establishing a new department, providing a service to the organization in a way that hadn’t been done before. “Do you think you can handle it?” he asked. With the (dis?)advantage of youthful naïveté on my side, I confidently stated “yes”. And then he almost talked me out of it. “It’s not going to be easy,” he reminded me three times, and I began to wonder if he, in fact, wanted me to accept the role. I did, and now I’ve been in the position for nearly a decade. Sometimes, the pace of the industry I’m in makes me feel as green as the day I started…but there are a few things I know now that I wish someone had shared with me as young leader. Here they are:

Leading employees who are older than you is a huge blessing.

You might assume, as a young leader, that overseeing employees who are around your own age would be easier than managing people with more experience and seniority, but that wasn’t the case for me. I struggled navigating this new relationship with my peers – my friends. I didn’t always get the lunch invite. I had to stay late instead of going out. They were small sacrifices for the privilege to lead, but it was, at times, lonely. And although I don’t have a solution for how to work through these feelings (a much older, wiser leader might!) it has gotten easier with time. I would encourage a young leader to embrace managing team members who are older than you, even if that intimidates you. Try to work through your insecurities, because when you’re a young leader, a strong team should include people with more experience than you. Learn from them and value them, because chances are they want to see you succeed.

What are you saying yes to that’s harming you more than helping you?

There are projects that come to mind that I’m glad I said yes to, but there are a few I wish I hadn’t. Someone once told me to always say yes to every opportunity you’re given as a young leader, but I don’t agree. Choose your “Yes” wisely. Will this request stretch you as a leader and help develop a new skill set? GREAT- say YES! Will it break you? Say NO. I know it can be especially hard for a young leader to say no, but when a request is outside your capacity, you won’t just be hurting yourself, you’ll hurt your team when they have to carry the burden with you.

EP Guest Post - Carolyn Innis - IG

Set yourself up for success.

Get sleep. Eat lunch. Spend time with people who fill you up. It’s easy for a young leader to completely immerse themselves in their work; after all, you feel like you’ve got something to prove. But as life changes and priorities shift, as bosses come and go, and projects begin and end, you’ll realize how important it is to care of yourself – because frankly, work will take as much out of you as you’re willing to give. Self-care is a good habit to form while you’re young so it can be built it into your lifestyle.

Own up to your shortcomings and ask for help.

I was asked to lead a project that was really intriguing to me, but I knew very little about. While I was planning how I might pull it off I had coffee with an expert in the field. “I’m a newbie at this,” I said. She told me that was a refreshing comment for her to hear. I had no intention of trying to pretend like I had the answers, or that I could do it without help. I admitted that I was green, and she didn’t hold that against me. In fact, she offered to be a resource to me to help accomplish the project. Humility may seem counter-intuitive when you’re young and trying to prove yourself, but it’s a necessary part of leadership.

One final thought– if you’re in a position of leadership, you know it’s a privilege and a challenge. A young leader needs a mentor who can speak truth into her life. You’ll have times when feelings of self-doubt seem stronger than your belief in yourself. Surround yourself with people who believe in you, and believe what they say about you. You’ve got this!

Carolyn InnisCarolyn Innis’s career in media has taken her from in front of the camera reporting television news, to behind the camera producing and copywriting, to many roles in between that make the magic of television happen! Currently serving as the Communications Director at Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. and yesTV, Carolyn is passionate about media that helps people along their Christian journey. When Carolyn is not connecting with viewers, partners, and organizations about the important work done at Crossroads, she is taking care of her two young daughters with her husband, Reg, in Brantford, Ontario. Carolyn serves at Brant Community Church where her husband pastors, and she is passionate about seeing believers embrace neighbourliness and hospitality.

Ellens Picks Affiliate

This is our fifth Ellen’s Picks Member Spotlight. We’re featuring guest blog posts from the inspiring women leaders of the Ellen’s Picks community! You can look forward to reading what these humble, impactful, faith-driven, and passionate women have to say about faith, leadership, family, ministry, and a wealth of other meaningful topics. Ellen’s Picks is the realization of a dream; a vision to connect a community of Christian women in leadership from across Canada with each other and life changing books. It is something to equip and encourage women who lead, addressing not just our day to day work but all the things that refresh, equip and engage our leaders’ hearts.