4 Ways to Lead the Younger Generation

InterviewEveryone who knows me, knows one thing about me- that I love standing in front of a group to tell them how smart I am.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to become an adjunct instructor at the Temple University Fox School of Business.  For the next 6 weeks, I get to form the minds and actions of 30 future business leaders who need to take my class to graduate.

Initially I was apprehensive in sharing what I know with these students.  After all, they are much more tech savvy and in tune with the now.  I even wondered if I had enough class (RIP Prince).  Then a funny thing happened, we started talking about business.

And then I realized why experienced leaders need to be around.  We get it.  We can help turn a dream into an idea into a reality.  More importantly, I rediscovered how we can work better with the younger generation and become even better leaders.  The funny thing is, we already do most of them every day:

  1. Listen to what people are saying and discern what they mean. Many times, younger colleagues have their ideas have baked.  Take the time to think through what they are saying, translate it into your world and discuss options on how to make their idea possible.
  2. Take the time to care about what is being said. Understanding what is being said is not enough.  You need to take the time to personally invest in each person.  If you understand their back story, you will understand them.  This will help you lead them better.
  3. Understand what is not being said. Body language is a nuance that you need to learn, especially with younger people.  Know when they are frustrated, confused, angry and apathetic.  The most successful leaders master body language.
  4. Collaborate, don’t lecture. No one wants to be preached to outside of church.  “What do you think?”  goes a lot further than “Do it this way”.  Open ended questions like “Have you thought about this?” or statements like “Don’t forget to consider that” will spur conversation.

Being a leader is difficult.  When there is a large age gap, it becomes even harder.  By improving on your listening, comprehension, empathy, and open-mindedness, you will become an even more successful leader in this new world.

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