A great post by Dan Rockwell for all our younger leaders to consider and use.
It’s growing more common for young people to lead teams that include elders.
Some elders look down on their youngers.
Entitlement expects respect or opportunity without earning it. Elders may expect respect simply because they’ve been at it longer. Younger may expect opportunity or position simply because they want it.
Both elders and youngers may feel the other doesn’t get it.
The greater challenge of working on inter-generational teams lies with the younger. In order to thrive, young leaders must navigate elders who have more experience, power, resources, and prestige.
7 ways young leaders succeed with elders:
1. Show respect, even if you don’t feel respected. It’s self-defeating to expect respect before extending it.
- Honor knowledge, even if you feel smarter. Ask questions. Stay curious.
- Honor experience, even if you feel it’s no big deal. Invite and listen to stories.
- Honor position, even if hierarchy irritates you. Learn how they earned their position.
Connection with elders is forged with respect.
Showing respect is about a humble heart. When you feel misunderstood, remember to understand others.
2. Adopt a learner’s attitude. Older leaders often feel superior because they believe they’re more knowledgeable. You may know more than your elders, but you haven’t experienced more.
Elders feel disrespected when youngers offhandedly reject suggestions.
3. Build a team of elder-advisors. Make it public that you’re listening to mentors. Publicly talk about things you’re learning from elders.
4. Try on suggestions that rub you the wrong way. I’ve found that wisdom often seems wrong when I’m unenlightened. I’m still rejecting ideas that make sense later.
5. Find an elder-advocate who believes and supports you. Some elders value the perspective and talent of young leaders.
6. Focus on adding value more than receiving it. How might you help elders achieve their goals?
7. Work hard.
How might younger leaders succeed with elders?