Looking Down on Young Leaders

Open door

The hope for dying organizations isn’t found in old leaders who don’t have the guts to say they created the problem.

Organizations reflect the age and attitude of their leaders. The older some grow, the more they lean toward no, and “no” isn’t going anywhere.

Transform organization by integrating young leaders.

Dedicated young leaders:

  1. Feel impatient.
  2. Address issues elders sweep under the carpet.
  3. Complain when stuck in bureaucracy.
  4. Consistently ask, “Why?”
  5. Care deeply.
  6. Yearn to make a mark.
  7. Embrace diversity.

Problems with young leaders:

  1. Immaturity reflected in short attention spans and lack of follow through.
  2. Arrogance during success and defeat during failure.
  3. All or nothing thinking.
  4. Overconfidence and/or insecurity.


Young leaders struggle because old leaders look down on them. “They haven’t paid their dues.”

Organizations that force young leaders to
conform end up with more of the same.

10 Tips for young leaders:

  1. Expect to prove yourself. You aren’t being picked on.
  2. Stand up to those who look down on you by delivering great results. Action talks…
  3. Enthusiasm with endurance gets things done. Enthusiasm alone is shallow.
  4. Bold confidence isn’t brash arrogance.
  5. Don’t whine. Maintain optimism. Whining is complaining without a solution.
  6. Ask questions before challenging ideas.
  7. Humility, which isn’t playing dead, always trumps arrogance.
  8. Hang with “young” elders. Not all elders are dead and not all youth are the solution.
  9. Prioritize. You’re going to try too many things at once.
  10. Work on yourself while working in your position. How are you developing your leadership?

4 Tips for maximizing young leaders:

  1. Push them past the “all talk” stage. Let them struggle and support them at the same time.
  2. Take their perspective. Learn from them.
  3. They don’t know what they don’t know. Teach rather than scoff.
  4. Realize many of the qualities you look down on are the ones you need.

Youth alone isn’t the answer. I’m advocating for respectful age integration.

What’s challenging about integrating young leaders in organizations?

What advice do you have for young leaders?

keynotes and workshops 3a