Part of your duty as a member-based organization is to prepare your youngest members to continue your work – whether that’s with the organization itself, the industry, or your community.

Because, inevitably, as older generations go on to enjoy retirement the younger ones will HAVE to step up and into leadership roles! Here’s how you can prepare them now to succeed (and carry your mission forward) in the future:

    1. Start a mentorship group
      Different from a one-on-one program, this would be a group mentorship program where young professionals could come together to hear from one overall mentor, or perhaps even a few different leaders from within your organization’s network, and discuss topics relevant to leadership.

      Don’t get us wrong – a one-on-one program is great! But a group setting could also help your young professionals see topics from their peers’ different perspectives. (And we all know that considering perspectives different than ours is important in leadership.)

    2. Open up select leadership meetings
      In many cases, your young professional members won’t even know exactly what goes on at the leadership level, simply because they’ve never been there before. Consider allowing them to attend a leadership meeting or two. This will help them start to understand the different priorities and challenges that leadership teams are faced with. (And who knows, it may even help them understand how their role fits into the whole puzzle, too!)

    3. Teach them how to set goals
      Goal setting is an important skill for everyone to have, but perhaps more so when in a leadership role. You have more responsibilities – and, those responsibilities tend to affect more than just your own job.

      Teach your young professionals to keep their sights set on the goals you share as an organization (aka, your mission), how to tune their own goals toward achieving that mission, and that the most effective goals are SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.)

    4. Host a leadership workshop
      Why not go all out? Goal setting is imperative to leadership, but there are a ton of other soft skills that all young professionals interested in leadership should get some exposure to, too:

      – Putting together a presentation – and actually presenting it, too

      – Communicating with both internal stakeholders and external audience

      – Time management and (possibly more importantly) how to delegate

      – How to give feedback and constructive criticism

      What other soft skills would you include in a leadership workshop? Tell us in the comments below!

    5. Create junior leadership positions
      Perhaps it’s on a committee or even directly with association or chamber operations, but ask yourself: what kind of leadership role can young professional members take on NOW? Having those responsibilities early on will give them a huge advantage in their career. What’s more is, it’s a sign to that member that you trust them and value their opinion, and that’ll lead to long-term loyalty to the organization!

    6. Give them the floor in general meetings
      If a formal “junior” role isn’t ideal, consider how you can involve your youngest members more during member meetings. Encourage them to speak up about their interests and share their expertise. Ask them to share their opinions on association or chamber activity. Even if they haven’t been around a while, they’ll appreciate knowing that their opinions matter.

      Plus, honing in on a topic and articulating your thoughts are important leadership skills: the more you encourage them to speak up, the more they’ll naturally become comfortable doing so. 

All of this to say, some young professionals might not be interested in traditional leadership. And that’s ok! But they can still be leaders and influencers in their organizations, industries, communities, etc. – and guiding them toward doing so effectively will only build their confidence in themselves, and trust in you.

Looking for more info on how to engage your young professional members, for the long-haul? You’re in luck, we wrote a guide all about it!