Resolving Tension Between Young and Old Leaders
“You’re challenge is giving control to young leaders.” (Spoken to an old leader at lunch three years ago.)
He was a quiet gentleman. It was like I had reached across the table and punched him in the chest. He jerked back in his chair, even though I hadn’t physically touched him.
He still won’t let go.
Frustration and tension is the opportunity of cross-generational leadership. Pushing frustrations away is pushing the future away.
Resolving tension between old and young leaders is future building.
5 tips for young leaders:
Focus as much on connecting with people as getting projects done.
Explore the organizational and relational consequences of your attitudes and behaviors with older leaders.
Define success in behavioral terms as much as results.
Accept the concerns of older leaders. They think you’re arrogant and short-sighted. Ask, “What am I doing that makes you think I’m arrogant?”
Barriers consist of ignored concerns.
Some progress is better than no progress. Go slow with people. Be quick with results.
10 tips for old leaders:
The arrogance you see in them is in you, too.
Learn to adapt to others like you want others to adapt to you.
Build your legacy by developing young leaders. Push away – limit impact.
Focus on who before how. Develop character before skill. Ask, “Who do you want to be?”
Fuel and focus the dissatisfaction of young leaders. The frustration of young leaders tells you who they are and where they want to go.
Develop positive expressions of dissatisfaction.
Explore shared values. Values drive behavior and build strong connections. Keep asking, “What’s important to you?”
Say, “Tell me more,” when young leaders frustrate you.
Leverage the risk-taker inside young leaders.
- “Be slow to correct and quick to commend.” John Wooden
What is your advice for resolving tensions between young and old leaders?
Thought we understood this old/young thingy yesterday.
You really like this viewpoint Dan. No biggie, just an observation.
For starters, I am NEVER upset for the reason I think. NEVER!!!!!
So I can begin the process of getting to the real issue whenever I want. No need dealing with the symptom, got to get to the root cause. That is where effective change takes place.
So in this instance it is tossing the old versus young way of looking at this. It is NOT old versus young, it is being effective in my communication with others. Old-Young, Serbian-American, Fat-Skinny…..THOSE THINGS DO NOT MATTER.
Those are the potential excuses whiners will hang the inability to communicate on.
“Oh we don’t speak the same language, that why we can’t connect”!!!!!!!!! RUBBISH, get an interpreter. We ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS……………………to love and to be loved.
Getting those core feelings come in different forms. Those forms allow us to give ourselves permission to tell our story to ourselves that everything is ok. We are all comfort searching creatures. Why we do all we do. Ok for ME, all I do is to have a sense of peace instead of a sense of fear.
That is what it all boils down to. So deal with issues FROM THERE!!!!!!!! hehe Work my way up and all this other symptomology will be reached at some point.
Start at the base to connect and work my way up! Yeah that is the ticket, making copies!!! LOL
Now for something of value in a completely different direction.
Ever heard of Trevor Blake? From bullied poor kid in Wales to seller of two companies. First one sold for 100 Million, second one 300 Million.
Cool free interviews on Youtube, great book called 3 Simple Steps.
Dude combines neuroscience and strategies for effective living.
Cutting edge brilliant stuff with RESULTS for social proof.
So my second bit of advice for relieving tension is LEARN something today you knew nothing about when you woke up.
The world is rapidly changing. Really smart people are figuring out really cool stuff that can help you become a MONSTER in effectively communicating with other people regardless of age, race, geography, language bladi bladi bladi!!!!!!!!!!!!
This guy Trevor was beaten with bats and stuff as a kid. Instead of going home and crying to Mommy he escaped to the LIBRARY!!!!! Knew that was a safe place the bullies would never go to look for him. There he OPENED HIS MIND AND LEARNED cool new stuff he never knew before and find out all about him to see how it benefitted him.
Might just benefit you too!
His book 3 Simple Steps can be had if you can stand used books for .71 cents plus 3.99 shipping on Amazon. Or think you can get it new and shipped for around 10 bucks.
Or keep retreading lame old info that won’t help you do anything but go in circles and wonder why you do not seem to be getting anywhere!!! hehe
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Scott. Have a great weekend.
Hey Scott, Your ideas seem to really fit with how I see things on many levels. I always look for your suggestions on youtube or books because you really dig around for good stuff. I do that as well but dont always have the time or energy…
I agree with getting to the root of issues and not applying bandages. It is in my wiring to not beat around the bush but to deal with the issue and move on. The problem is that most people are not wired that way and I come across as “trying to change them” when I share something and advocate for them to try it because “I know” how good it would be for them if they would only try it. I come across as being pushy but I really just want to help. the old adage is true that you can lead a horse to water but touching the root issue from the start is a good way to get kicked by the horse.
I think Dan does a great job of getting on the horses level by talking about what the horse knows. In this case, it is about young vs old. That is the entry point. If the horse fears what the root cause may be then our persistance = resistance. I wonder about how well you are able to affect people because being like you, I tend to push too hard; however, it is in my awareness and I am searching how I can best influence people by learning how to find their wavelength. After all, it is about helping them not about what flavor of ice cream I think they should try.
By the way, I am taking a course on Mindfulness in an effort to learn to get out of my own way. It fits in with your claims about AA. John Kabat Zinn has a great talk about it on youtube at Google.
Just wanted you to look at what the horse might say (always like a little sarcasm with my coffee.. 🙂 Have a good one and get back to producing oxytocin!
What a thoughtful response Shane. I SINCERELY believe you would LOVE page 60 to 62 in the AA Big Book. It says something like if others would just do as I THINK they would be SO HAPPY!!!!!! What usually happens is the play does not come off so well!!! Isn’t that BEAUTIFUL???????
They really would, I have SUCH a grand plan BUT…..and in this case Shane everything after but is not BS…..hehe….In THIS CASE this is God’s show. Goes on to say the first thing we got to do is stop playing God although we usually do not think that is what we have been doing. Then says after some reflection we can see how in the past we put ourselves in a position to be hurt, or hurt others. That what playing God does. Better to leave the God business to Him/Her! Just think you would love those pages. If you read it let me know. Free on google.! Chapter 5.
I am a bit player, NOT THE DIRECTOR!!!!!!!! Sometimes I HATE THAT!!!!!!! LOL Especially when I really got something really cool figured out for someone else and they do not “get” it!!!!
The AA Book is FREE online like most stuff I share so people can see it free.
I am VERY much looking forward to checking out what you shared with me on YouTube. I get so excited to learn cool new stuff I can’t stand it!!!! In a good way!
There is JUST so much to learn.
I think Dan is THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That does not mean I agree with everything he says, I clearly do not. He has two rare talents that honestly puts me in awe of the guy. Just cause I do not always agree does not mean I do not have an epic level of respect for Dan Rockwell, I do. I respect him enough to call it like I see it instead of stumbling over he and I both praising him. When he hits it out of the park I tell him, when he stinks up the joint I say that too but he can always count on me sharing from the most honest place I have.
The things I admire about Dan are twofold.
One he has not kicked my sorry you know what outta here for being so straight about what I really feel. Shows the true character of the man in my book. And I can read between the lines when he really begrudgingly writes something back to me, like today. He really did not care much for what I said!!!!! LOL It is cool, this old/young thing needs to be set out to pasture…….just my opinion.
Second thing I respect Dan for is the ability to do this everyday! What discipline and creativity and heart! See I do not believe I could do this everyday. That is why I admire his talent for doing this.
I really hope he researches Trevor Blake, would love to have that guy on here. Breaking down with Quantum Physics how we operate! Amazing stuff! Thing I learned yesterday Shane and I know you will like this too, he don’t like positive thinkers!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think we should from this point onward call them Postitive Stinkers!!!!!!!!!!!
The reason is so TRUE! We cannot control our thoughts, plural, like the first one! We CAN choose the follow up! We can turn that into a resentment or go to some other thought!
The hour long interview I listened to was worth it just for that.
We just have so much to learn as we evolve in this spiritual being having a human experience thingy. Trevor gets that and man going from beaten with BATS by bullies to selling two companies for over 400 million! What a story!
Results Mam, just the results, Joe Friday ought to have said.
Thanks for the Horse analogy. Something valuable for me to ponder.
I feel a Leader is here to clarify for the herd. This old/young thingy is not true so the Leader ought to be the one ferreting it outta here.
Young/Old is easy but I do not think a person who comes here would stick with it after processesing down what really matters is a mind open or closed, age no factor there.
ok time for dinner.
I will get back to you about Mindfulness and you get back to me about page 60 to 62!!!!
Seeing Young Leaders as the fruit of my x-years of work has been a nice reward. that they are different than me is a great strength not a weakness.I’m fortunate I get to sit with some of them several times a year.
Would I want a Ken-Clone?? No never.
..but I am satisfied to see little bits of me from time to time, and to hear a “you know you helped” or “thanks for taking time to mentor” – well that is uniquely rewarding.
Thanks Ken. Nicely said. One of the sweetest aspects of leadership is a growing relationship between young and old leaders.
Resolving tensions between young and old leaders is the matter of acceptance, change and sensibility. Young leaders and old leaders should have willingness to accept what they have. They can not pretend to have what they do not have. Many times, they pretend to know everything and that create tensions. When they get exposed, then lose their image. So, having broader viewpoints to anything can be helpful to accepting from both the leaders. Secondly, having accepted what they have, they should accept change. Only accepting is not enough. It is important to invite and start working to get over any hindrance, if any. Finally, leaders should have sensibility to know others views. Only focusing on self perspective does not provide full spectrum of any issue. Leaders should have sensibility to understand and see the issue from others perspective.
I also believe that leaders should minimize the distance between them. Many times due to many unknown and unconscious difference, space is created. These spaces become strong boundary that becomes difficult to break later on. So, leaders should make all the possible effort to minimize space. And it is possible with better empathy and authenticity.
Thanks Ajay. Something feels really good about the word “acceptance.” Thanks for adding it here! I see compassion in your comment.
Ahhhh yessssssssssssss. The oldest game in the book…tug of war.
The arrogance you see in them is in you, too. – Isn’t it AMAZING that characteristics we see in others we don’t identify in ourselves. Often times the “man in the mirror” is more like the “man in the mirage.” There is a wealth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom to be gained from the seasoned leader while at the same time there creativity, potential and energy, ingenuity in younger leaders that is equally as important to the success of the company. The challenge is for the seasoned leader not to view the young leader as a whipper snapper who is wet behind the ears and for the young leader not to view the seasoned leader as some fossil which is extinct and useful for nothing but historical perspective. While all the pulling, tugging, and posturing is going on no one is really being productive. Another home run. Thank you.
Thanks Enna. Of all the statements in this post, that one stings me the most. I wanted to delete it. That’s one reason I left it in.
Sooooo True. We often become what we despise. Negative side affect of power, authority, success if we are not careful.
The secret to winning – together – is to be focused on the good of the organization and its outcomes. This is true whether young or old, male or female, white or black, etc. Focus on winning means always focusing on the goal. Other issues cause noise, and hinder outcomes. People who look inwards at their problems rather than outwards towards others are often more depressed. In the same manner, organizations that concentrate on their internal strife rather than their external influence and mission often become dysfunctional.
Non-values related tensions can be good, so long as they are created in the interest of furthering the organization’s mission and the good of its stakeholders. Tensions caused by personal desire for dominance and recognition are wrong.
Values should never be the cause of organizational strife. If your values are not that of the organization, then leave. If someone is stirring up issues that are values based, and not in keeping with the organization’s values, then let them go.
Thanks Marc. I love asking, “What’s the win?” It’s surprising how that question often has a fuzzy answer. Thanks for pointing us in a winning direction.
I actually wrote my masters thesis on the topic of generational differences and effective leadership in the workforce, and was amazed to learn how little communication there is between Baby Boomers and Generation Y. Although my research is a few years old now, it was somehow around 51% of little or no interaction between the groups.
I think everything has to start with the foundation of trust between these two generations. You mention “explore shared values” and that is where I would start. When the groups start communicating and realize all that is actually shared, the trust starts building. It’s a matter of getting those share building activities in place.
Thanks for an excellent read. Have a great weekend!
Thanks Bill. I find shared values to be the “tie that binds.” It’s so much easier to work through issues if we feel we are on the same side of the fence.
I’m struggling with this “young” leader and “old” leader phrasing. Some people who are “new” to leadership aren’t necessarily “young”. Some people who are experienced leaders aren’t necessarily “old”.
Thanks Chris. I’m focusing on issues that arise with age. Your point is well taken. I think there can be tensions between inexperience and experience. Sometimes age is a factor there also. Glad you brought this up.
Great guidelines today, Dan, for building strong relationships! Thank you. I would wrap it all together with both the elders and the youngers about always focusing on joining together to achieve THEIR mission and how to support each other in that achievement. That is the purpetual conversation.
Thanks Paul. Truth is if we aren’t pulling on the same rope and in the same direction we aren’t on the same team. Conversation is a tool for finding alignment.
Yes, Dan, it’s all about the conversation, isn’t it? Our mission is the artists’ pallet (sp?), and our conversations are the paint we use collectively to create the picture of our success. Alignment is the main thing, and the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.
Great advice with “Focus as much on connecting with people as getting projects done.” I find having a connection with someone including knowing their strengths can have immense results with the outcome of a project.
I believe Paul hit on the cornerstone of this. Relationship in my mind is the key or glue to binding young and old leaders together.Trust. respect, confidence, courage, and commitment are all derivatives of building a relationship with another person. Once the relationship is solid, the results are phenomenal.
Super post. Thank you. I’m reflecting on this within my organization right now. My husband and I (founders) are stepping back and giving our amazing team of younger people more and more room to lead. I appreciate your advice that boils down to “ask questions more then react or tell”. I was in a mtg last week and our young staff were reporting on a myriad of new activity they are planning. I wasn’t sure all of it was right; some of it we has tried before (10-15 years ago). Instead of responding “we did that before it didn’t work” I bit my tongue and said “tell me more about your process of coming to these ideas?” What has become clear to me as of late is that younger leaders grow weary of our tales of old, ’15, 10, 8 years ago this great thing happened.’ No one is as enthralled by these stories as we are. People get excited about what we are doing now. If our younger leaders are The Now we must swallow our pride and let them have the spotlight. We can coach them one-on-one which helps build relationships but while they are ‘on stage’ (I.e. Anytime others are present) do not usurp their still-fragile leadership power with tales of old.
I think what you are doing is great,inspiring our young and old to be leaders and reach for what they want.