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Photo courtesy of Tim Gouw

Millennials as Leaders: How to Make it Work

If you stay in an executive position for long enough, there will inevitably come a day when someone younger moves into a position parallel (or even above) your own. For many Millennials entering the workforce today, they’re finding themselves in a leadership position over people much older and more experienced than them.

For the first time in this generation, we see the conflicts in age and executive abilities. So how do we accept younger leaders and how do these younger leaders affect the sort of change that comes with their innovative ideas?

Adopting Structural Changes with a Younger Leader

Whether you’re in a fellow executive position or you see a “youth” take a leadership position above you, there’s always one thing to remember:

Regardless of age, you all have the same interests at heart: the company, the service, or the product.

Once you remember that everyone is on the same team, it’s much easier to move forward. However, if the takeover or switch in leadership is less than smooth, there are “3 L’s” for helping your team and the younger executive:

  • Loosen the reins. This goes for both sides. While older generations may cling to their older ways (including with technology), younger generations may think they have to rule with an iron fist to get respect. Neither side will work together if they don’t let go a little bit.
  • Link the old and the new. The new executive auditing process is a time to introduce the idea of combining old and new practices. Maybe the older executives can show the newcomer the systems that work really well, and the newcomer can show the senior execs the areas where new technology or ideas could improve output.
  • Progress for the future. Help them make progress every day. Soon, your team will see that your ideas are improving the work and they’ll respect your efforts.
  • Honesty regarding your knowledge base. The truth is you’re young, and you have decades less experience than your peers and even some employees. Let them know when you need help when you don’t know something, and let them share their expertise.

Written by

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders.

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