Warning – Are You In Danger Of Letting Teenagers Lead Your Business?


Have you ever promoted a team member who you saw huge potential in, only to wonder a short while later what on earth were you thinking? This person who looked up to you as the expert and hung off your every word of wisdom is now a complete stranger. It’s like they have just become a teenager all over again. And you certainly didn’t sign up to be their parent!

At this point, you’re probably throwing your hand in the air and looking to the heavens for guidance. They are having a negative impact on your team culture and this is really starting to have a flow on effect in your business. You know you have to take action. Fast action. But you have no idea what action to take.

Consider for a moment, stepping away from the emotion of what is happening and take the position of observer. The best way to do this is to use a model. And one of the best I have seen for this exact situation is the “Adult Growth Model”.


A creation of Sharon Pearson from The Coaching Institute, the Adult Growth Model is a simple way of predicting human behaviour. And when we notice behaviour (of ourselves and others) and where it fits into this model, we can make a choice about what to do next.

There are four key stages:


Have you ever worked with a team member that blames external factors for why they are not performing? They continually look to you as the authority who will tell them what to do next. And when they don’t produce results, they either give up or act offended by the fact you are questioning their ability. They have low self-awareness and would rather follow the ‘pack’, who they look towards to rescue them.

It’s highly unlikely these are your next level of leaders.

However, when they are resourceful in their reliant behaviour, you start to notice someone with potential. They know they need support, and seek it out. You point them to resources and people that can help and they follow through. They act on the advice you give them, taking responsibility for their actions.

These are the future leaders of your business, and you feel a level of excitement about what the future holds as they step into your shoes and assist take the load off you.

And then not long after, you notice their behaviour shifts. It’s like the promotion has gone to their head and they are now leading others through their title only, not through trust or respect. They have moved to the next phase of rebellion.



Gaining a ‘position’ can trigger significance in some people. Whilst things are good they have reliant followers and strive to ‘get it right’. However, when things go wrong they blame the authority (you!) and start to keep ‘score’ with others. They love a drama, and are quick to throw a policy or procedure right back at you if you question their behaviour. You start to realise everything is tainted by ‘what’s in it for them’. And all of a sudden, you have a teenager in the midst.

But just as nature demonstrates, teenagers do grow into adults. There is a way forward.

When you help them to realise that everywhere misery goes they are there, the first sign of self-awareness appears. Yes their results will be inconsistent, and it will be a confronting time for them. But if they are able to progress to resourceful rebellion, then they will get on with it and give another way a go. Their determination to find a way will move them forward to the next phase.


This is where leaders really start to step into their own strength. They are driven by the question “how can I do this better?” and there is less emotion about matters that are new to them. They start to become coachable, as they are looking for the most effective way to produce results. They’re getting on with it, helping themselves by helping others.

These leaders know that they need to give in order to get. This means they will build relationships with their team members, with the expectation that reciprocity will kick in and their team will perform. It’s the beginning of collaboration, where they will start to get results through others by building relationship with them.

They are driven by growth, and because of this will start to set, and live by, their own standards. Now is the time for you to nurture them, these are the adult leaders who will assist your business become more successful.

So what’s the ultimate stage for you and your leader to strive for? It’s realisation.


Here, we give knowing that we will be taken care of. We set the example and never deviate from it, even if nobody is watching us. The focus at this level is on results through others. But it’s even more than that, it’s about graceful arrival, where the whole team is taken care of. There is kindness and compassion in these leaders who will have the back of the whole team. There’s a personal sense of responsibility for living their own standards. These are leaders with a strong vision and who are committed to achieving it.

And let’s face it, they’re the leaders we want running our businesses. Because that means we can move onto the next innovation, grow the business or simply move on knowing our legacy will continue through them. And isn’t that what it’s all about?


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