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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.

  1. Honor everything honorable about their past, over and over.
  2. Ask yourself what drives them. Repeated stories reveal deep values.
  3. Align your language with their values. For example, when their stories celebrate the creation of new customers, frame new initiatives in “new customer” language.
  4. 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:

  1. Celebrate what others celebrate.
  2. Hate what others hate.
  3. Love what others love.
  4. Mourn what others mourn.

Stay or go:

  1. What’s the likelihood you’ll have exponential impact in this context?
  2. Will you enhance your skills?
  3. What opportunities are on the horizon?
  4. 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?

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