In the past, many organisations were run by the most elderly in the office as promotions were given based on experience. Recently, this practice has become outdated and it is now more common to have younger leaders since most companies now promote on merit. It is, therefore, possible to find yourself leading individuals who are much older than you, and this may present a few challenges. Here are a few things you should do if you want to be an effective leader.
Do not seek approval
The first tip that a young leader should follow is to never to beg for approval from subordinates, regardless of their age. Older employees are likely to test your limits and see whether they can easily sway you. For instance, if someone does the wrong thing and you don’t reprimand he or she, others are probably going to see you as a pushover. A great leader should seek respect and not approval. It is impossible for everyone in the organisation to like you. If you spend a lot of time chasing their validation, they’ll lose respect for you, and your leadership abilities will be questioned from then on.
Learn from them
Older employees are by default the most experienced in the office. The biggest mistake that you can make as a leader is to disregard their experience and immediately stamp unnecessary authority over them. This doesn’t mean that they should tell you how to do your job but rather that you should listen to their perspectives on various issues in the office, and learn from them. Once you alienate yourself and think your way is the only available choice, your subordinates won’t bother to add their input as they don’t feel valued. Sometimes, the best way to communicate is to listen – especially when dealing with older subordinates.
An effective leader should remain calm at all times. Every leader, in spite of his or her age, should be still and not allow temperament to affect thinking. A manager who becomes visibly angry and moody around the office is likely to lose the respect of his or her subordinates. It is even worse when you are a younger leader as everyone will assume your actions are because you lack maturity due to your relatively tender age. People will start looking for leadership from elsewhere since it is evident that you can’t handle yourself well. If you can’t handle yourself, it’s not possible to manage older employees – at least that is what they will think.