Bill Hybels on Integrating Young Leaders

Peter Drucker believed leaders of nonprofits had lots to teach corporate leaders. With that in mind, I’m delighted to share insights from my conversation with Bill Hybels, one of today’s most highly regarded leaders from the nonprofit world.

Everyone wins in a multigenerational leadership environment.
Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels on multigenerational leadership (1:35):


  1. Learning. The same people sitting around the same table represents stagnation. Mentoring, for example, has multi-generational opportunities.
  2. Connection. Isolation grows as time passes. Integrating young leaders develops new connections within leadership teams and organizations.
  3. Openness. Young leaders don’t say, “We tried that already,” because they haven’t.
  4. Vitality. The enthusiasm of youth is transformational energy.

5 reasons leaders don’t integrate young leaders:

  1. Arrogance. Young leaders don’t deserve a place at the table.
  2. Fear. The old ways feel safe to old leaders.
  3. Control. The need for control motivates old leaders to keep others out.
  4. Position. Love of position makes old leaders guard their position.
  5. Inexperience. Young leaders don’t have enough experience to lead.


Old leaders worry that young leaders will fail. Bill suggests gray hairs remember their own younger days.

My gosh. I should have been arrested for some of the leadership pranks I pulled…” Bill Hybles

Dealing with failures of youth (1:24)


How Bill Hybels tries to overcome intimidation (0:59):

Getting the most from young leaders:

  1. Coach. “I do a lot of real-time coaching.” Bill Hybels
  2. Opportunity. Provide opportunities for young leaders to test themselves.
  3. Fail. When young leaders bite off more than they can chew, let them go. Encourage them to learn from failure. (Always evaluate the cost of potential failure against the benefit, before making this type of decision.)

How might old leaders integrate young leaders into organizational life?

What opportunities and/or dangers do you see from integrating young leaders?

Note: I talked with Bill at the World LEADERS Conference in West Palm Beach, FL. Thanks to Ben Lichtenwalner of Modern Servant Leadership for setting up this conversation.