Leading those more tenured than yourself is a fun and challenging topic to master. The good news is that it is only temporary. You are eventually going to be old and someone younger will be your boss!
Here are some ways to win over those that are more tenured than yourself.
Speak their language by knowing what is important to them.
Oftentimes when there is a disconnect between a younger leader and an older team member it is because the older person does not feel valued. Respect and acknowledgment of tenure and contribution are very important to this group. I’ve seen this first hand with leaders that struggled leading people that have been with a company nearly as long as the leader has been alive. Once the leader focused on bringing the person alongside them as a partner and showed appreciation for their contribution and loyalty, things turned around.
Be humble, honest, and listen.
This can be tough. You may feel like you need to come across like you know what you are talking about, even if you don’t. Besides, you don’t want to come across as a weak leader to those that have been around a long time.
Avoid the ego trap that you should know it all. Instead, be humble in your leadership and seek the guidance and expertise of those that have been around. Be honest about not knowing the answer and truly listen and learn from others in the organization.
Be caring but still be open to debate.
There is no doubt that the older ones on your team have something to learn from you. You were picked to lead for a reason! Treat your team with care and empathy, and remain brave when it comes to willingness to debate and teach the more tenured person. Just because they are older, doesn’t mean they don’t have things to work on as well.
Remember to treat those more tenured with respect and value their contribution.
Make a better tomorrow.