When millennials lead people their parents and grandparents age, it can be extremely daunting and downright intimidating at times. I’ve had the privilege of being the executive leadership coach for some of the most brilliantly talented young professionals, and they all ask me how to lead people twice their age, some of whom started out as their mentors.
Authenticity Is Key
If you can present the same authentic personality and values which helped you climb to the leadership position you are in today, and if you use this to instinctively guide you like a leadership compass, you will be acting in a way that is true to who you are, reflecting the things you care about the most.
There is no point trying to morph into somebody that people won’t recognise by wearing a ‘Now I’m the manager hat’. Never forget the mindset, the values, the skills, and the work ethics that led you to where you are today. When you are authentic in your leadership of others, you will lead with passion and belief, demonstrating consistent behaviours, your team and those around you will understand what matters to you, and you will be able to inspire others.
Tips on How to Successfully Manage People Who Are Older Than You
- Take time to understand the individual
We’re all different, and we are all motivated by different things too. Take the time to get to know your team members for yourself and never form a judgement that is based on other people’s perceptions.
- Be open to learning
As any good leader will know, each individual member of a team will bring a unique set of strengths to the overall group. As someone with less experience, there will always opportunities to learn new things. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything, and be open to learning new things from those who have been with the company a little bit longer than you.
- Learn about how they prefer to communicate
One of the most apparent differences that exist between Millennials and their older generations can be found within the realm of communication. Communication can make or break any relationship, but none more so than that which exists between a leader and their team. While some people may prefer to use internal chat, others might prefer email, and some may even prefer to speak face to face. It is down to you to make sure you communicate clearly, and in a way that everyone can understand.
- Facilitate their personal development
One of the most frequently cited causes for concern with older generations that work under the leadership of a Millennial is tech. While someone might not be as quick or experienced with technology, it is your responsibility to ensure they get the help they need to facilitate their personal development. It is never too late to learn new skills!
- Demonstrate patience and compassion
Any leader should show a level of empathy with their team. However, when it comes to millennials leading across generations, there is perhaps a greater need to demonstrate compassion and patience. Don’t be played or taken advantage of and always hold people accountable for their actions. Being an empathetic leader and listening to the needs of your team is essential when managing others, regardless of their age.
If you are a millennial, who is already managing someone who is older than you or perhaps you will be soon, the best piece of advice I can offer is to be an authentic leader.
Because, you and other Millennials are now leading across generations, do not change who you are, do not alter your values, be respectful to those around you, and always take the time to listen and learn.