Turn Setbacks into Setups

Leading People Older Than You

April 12, 2019

Young leaders:

Twenty or thirty years ago, it would not have been so common to see someone that just got off of their parent’s health insurance leading the world’s top organizations. Now, we’re seeing more and more young people emerge as wildly effective leaders and key decision makers within organizations leading teams comprised of their peers who are sometimes several years their senior.

Of course, being a young leader in the modern world can lead to some tough growing pains as you balance the line of being an authority and effective leader while also dealing with older peers who don’t necessarily want to answer to someone much younger and potentially less experienced.

Being a leader is tough enough and trying to keep a team of older peers engaged on top of that doesn’t make your job any easier, but leading a team of older peers can be done! Just ask Jack Dorsey (Twitter) or David Karp (Tumblr).


Check out the tips below to help break down those walls and get your entire team united:
  •      Show Your Respect

    Effective leaders understand the importance of respect for all members of their team, no matter the age difference. Take the time to let your teammates know that you respect their voices and want to hear from them. Listen to them, learn from them, and really get to know them. Taking the time to show that you do indeed care will do wonders in solidifying your relationship with your team and gaining their respect.


  •      Adapt To Their Preferred Communication Methods

    We all operate differently. A good leader will be able to pinpoint how each of their teammates likes to be communicated with and will adjust their communication delivery accordingly. Some people prefer a no-nonsense approach will others love spending time shooting the breeze and having a more casual approach to work. Figure out what works for your team members. Your ability to adapt to their needs will help in building a nice rapport.


  •      Learn From Your Teammates

    One of the many great benefits of having older teammates under you is that they bring a vast wealth of knowledge and different perspectives. Utilize their expertise to not only lead your team but also to grow as a manager. No matter our age, there is always something we can learn from one another.


  •      Make Reasonable Changes

    Often times, seasoned employees are resistant to new management because they fear that there will be too many changes that don’t value company tradition. It’s ok to make changes and by all means, come in with fresh ideas! However, be sure to remember to share your rationale behind the changes you want to implement and try to keep any changes you make aligned with tradition. Your OG employees will find it easier to embrace your changes instead of automatically resenting them.


  •      Always Add Value

    Adding value is an undeniable way of showing your worth to doubting employees. If you’re able to demonstrate why you have been selected for your position and bring new things to the table, your entire team will back and support you. It’s hard to doubt a valuable leader who knows their stuff and keeps the team inspired and stimulated.


  •      Maintain Your Authority

    Don’t be shy about asking teammates to lend their expertise or share advice, but always be sure to still maintain your authority. You don’t want your teammates to take advantage of you or mistake your questions as ignorance. Be firm, be confident, and be supportive.  


Don’t let your age work against you and be a liability. You earned your position as a leader, so lead your team with the expertise and knowledge that has gotten you this far! Trust yourself and your abilities as an effective leader.


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