Four Secrets to Connecting with Old Leaders
Wouldn’t it be great if long-term-old-timers loved the new kids on the block? But, established leaders don’t respect inexperienced whippersnappers. In addition, new kids are a nuisance; they question, challenge, and disrupt.
You long to stand out. But young leaders who lock horns with old leaders lose.
Fitting into stagnant patterns
won’t result in exponential success.
Fitting in, over the long-haul, is career suicide. Adapting and aligning is a short-term strategy for creating long-term success.
Build strong connections of trust that establish platforms where everyone stands out.
Four Secrets for Connecting:
Be a learn-it-all not a know-it-all.
The problem with new leaders is they weren’t there. Learn about the old past. Ask about past successes, failures, struggles, and breakthroughs. Listen for points of pride, dissatisfaction, and repeated stories.
- Honor everything honorable about their past, over and over.
- Ask yourself what drives them. Repeated stories reveal deep values.
- Align your language with their values. For example, when their stories celebrate the creation of new customers, frame new initiatives in “new customer” language.
- Listen to their battle stories and take on their enemies; not personal enemies but challenges they faced. Get in the trenches with them.
You connect best when you:
- Celebrate what others celebrate.
- Hate what others hate.
- Love what others love.
- Mourn what others mourn.
Stay or go:
- What’s the likelihood you’ll have exponential impact in this context?
- Will you enhance your skills?
- What opportunities are on the horizon?
- Will you learn from their experiences?
When the needle tips to yes, stay. When the needle tips to no, work hard but seek new opportunities.
See reader responses to: “How do you handle a boss who sees you as competition?” Leadership Freak Coffee Shop.
How can new, young leaders connect with established, old leaders?
Some of my best connections are with my friends in different generations, both those older and younger. There is so much to learn and be challenged by.
I bet your life is richer too.
ahhh the delicate dance….
The use of the word “whippersnappers” absolutely makes this post, Dan 🙂
Thanks Ryan… I wasn’t even sure if it was a word but my spell checker let it squeak by… 🙂 Thanks for all your support both here and on twitter!
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen R. Covey
Great truth Larry.. thanks
Dan, I woke up this morning with the following in my head. I mean to blog about it, but actually think it’s appropriate to surface the lede here. (It by no means hijacks your post, I hope you and your community will agree!)
“Folks who pride themselves on ‘taking the long view,’ ‘holding a broad and mature perspective’–or who are just, like me, geezers–often bristle when a young’un says, ‘But everything’s different now.’
Rather than shake our heads sadly, with a knowing smile, we’d do well instead to ‘take the long view’ of such an utterance, and see through to the its heart of truth.
The past 50 years, the era during which we geezers developed our worldview, OUR era, is the anomalous one in nearly every regard.
The discomfiting truth is that (nearly) everything *is* different, because most of the circumstances which birthed and buttressed the realities of, say, 1955 through 2005, are gone. We’re ‘back to basics’ now in myriad–in *most*–ways.
More to follow, in due course. (Not here; I won’t presume on your attention. That *would* be hijacking indeed!)
Thanks for the hijack.. 🙂
So, since everything is different geezer skills aren’t as relevant. We could say, geezer character still applies. Just a glimmer of hope for the over-the-hill gang.
Whippersnappers are stoppers and not learners. They have preconceived and often rebellious assumption and that is why leaders do not respect them. The effort to connect the could be wastage. This is possible when leaders have excessive tolerant capacity and prove whippersnappers wrong with lot of examples and experiences. Often whippersnappers have less examples. Know it all category of people blocks learning whereas learn it all category of people invites curiosity.
I think, young leaders can connect with established or old leaders by three ways- showing humility, generating curiosity, respecting leaders and questioning self knowledge. This will surely hep young leaders to connect with established leaders.
Institutionalized behavior is not the eminent domain o’ ‘geezers’, although prevalent.
Have seen them ‘young-uns’ have both feet in perceptual concrete in a short period of time.
The challenge of connecting (with dysfunctional culture) versus stay/go may depend on passion and drive.
Love the ‘learn-it-all’ realignment Dan, that’s a Ka-Ching here!
You are so right. Stagnation is no respecter of persons. Young’ins can be prone to “my way is the right way” thinking. I remember how right I used to be when I was a youngster…
I love the way you write. 🙂 In this post, I think you’re successfully offering advice to both the “new kids on the block” as well as the “old timers.” As an old timer, I always strongly encourage other old-timers to mentor new kids, and encourage new kids to find mentors. It doesn’t always work, you’re right, but I’ve personally always been flattered to be asked, and I like to think I make an impact on the future of the field of librarianship. I wrote about mentoring here: http://www.scls.info/management/mentors.html (I designed this program, but since I’m retired, my name is no longer attached to it), and here: http://wp.me/p2oUc8-8a.
Thanks for the good word. Maybe this post nudges both groups. Congrats on your mentoring efforts. I wish you continued success.
Find ways to have fun in your biz. I never met anyone, young or old, that didn’t like to have fun.
Even freaks like fun.. 🙂
Interesting perspective! The different generations have a lot to learn from each other. Just to play devil’s advocate, I wonder if sometimes the “old leaders” purposefully turn themselves off the ideals and changes brought by “new leaders.” I think by opening themselves to learning from the “new leaders,” the “old leaders” will be able to impart even more of their wisdom and perhaps gain something in return.
I spend a large percentage of my time with younger leaders…. It’s fabulous, even if other readers hint that I’m a geezer… 😉
Toughie; clearly not what some rude (and somewhat arrogant) Brits might describe as an “arse-lickers charter”; but something more about sustaining relationships that one might need later in life. The old stag who loses his horns in a rutting match to a young buck, might have a bunch of bucks who still respect him and who will happily show the buck concerned “what’s what”; equally the young buck might just be a Zuckerberg who’d rather marry a Chinese Princess (namecheck; Coldplay and Rhianna) and start a new bunch of stories based on those passed down by older Dynasties. It’s a tricky business. Everyone’s a customer; everyone’s a salesperson; everyone’s a leader; everyone is led. What was the riddle of that stone creature over in Egypt and what were those lines from Shakespeare about… Four legs, two legs, three legs… and repeat. Life goes on; whether you’re there to see it or not. So why not listen to JFK instead of the living leaders: why not go to the moon, build a greenhouse and why not put some manure down and grow some tomatoes to chuck back at the leaders on earth who’ve lost sight of the future? Why not? Ask Richard Branson! Who’s he listening to? Ask the guys from Planetary Resources Inc; who are they listening to?
Love it… Thanks.
Definitely not into arse lickin. Love the “to hell with it” feel I get from your comment.
What a great post! Connecting with both old and young leaders should be one of the main goal for anyone wants to become a leader too. Of course connecting with old leaders can be quite easier following your valuable advice. Thanks again.
Thanks for joining in. Leadership as most everything else in life is about relationships.
It’s a great pleasure to join you on your amazing blog.
I just hosted a potluck for all the retired teachers on my block, now that I’m a new teacher. It was such a great night to hear all their stories and learn from them. I love this post, such great advice.
Looks like you ain’t no whippersnapper. Thanks for joining in!
Gently approach, listen, learn and appreciate. Words that were told to me and have proven to be wise.
Sounds like wisdom to me! 🙂
Both the ‘older’ and the ‘younger’ need to listen to each other. The ‘younger’ bring out the new and changed ideas and approaches and the ‘older’ share their wisdom and knowledge based on their experiences; a good mix if everyone chooses to have the same goal and want to work to the same end…….just a thought.
I am constantly finding myself on the bridge between the “older” and the “younger” leaders and this is a very refreshing blog. I definitely agree that we need to honor their past battles because ultimately, they will be ours eventually.
Thank you Dan. Learning from the pillars are great. Thank you for this reminder.