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 on multigenerational leadership (1:35):
- Learning. The same people sitting around the same table represents stagnation. Mentoring, for example, has multi-generational opportunities.
- Connection. Isolation grows as time passes. Integrating young leaders develops new connections within leadership teams and organizations.
- Openness. Young leaders don’t say, “We tried that already,” because they haven’t.
- Vitality. The enthusiasm of youth is transformational energy.
5 reasons leaders don’t integrate young leaders:
- Arrogance. Young leaders don’t deserve a place at the table.
- Fear. The old ways feel safe to old leaders.
- Control. The need for control motivates old leaders to keep others out.
- Position. Love of position makes old leaders guard their position.
- 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:
- Coach. “I do a lot of real-time coaching.” Bill Hybels
- Opportunity. Provide opportunities for young leaders to test themselves.
- 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.
young leaders are more likely to say “What if…”
Thanks Bill. Good call.
We have that developing now. The positive, zeal, lets do something. The negative, no real world experience and mostly idealism. Better to sit, listen, ask questions and crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you fly. Take time to prove it to yourself and others. A young know it all, who knows little or nothing at all, who tries to grab the reins but can’t drive (lead) the team, will come to the place of being out-standing in his chosen field, by himself.
Thanks Ron. You experience and insight is helpful to the conversation. The exit of the boomers means most organizations are encountering some form of intergenerational tension.
I’ve spent most of the last fifteen years working with teams of younger people. I enjoy their energy and their “let’s try this” spirit. Opening myself to their mentorship has been a great experience, with benefit flowing in both directions.
Belichick and Brady remind us it can be a very powerful pairing!
Thanks Ken. Mutual mentoring seems to be one of the main ways to successful integrate young leaders. Glad you shared your experience.
Embrace their spirit and capture their fertile minds for innovation! You’ll get back far more than could ever imagine. Partnership with employees pays off big time! Besides, consider the alternative – chipping away at an employee’s enthusiasm (which chips away at their energy level) leaving them little to give you or their customers. Lots of revenue gets left on the table.
Thanks Michelle. I love your use of “embrace their spirit” I focus on behaviors all the time. But, I can see the value of looking past behaviors to spirit. Thanks for jumping in.
I completely agree with the thought of Embracing the Spirit, It works wonders. I have just finished an extremely complicated restructure with the only way out being bringing in the Young Minds on board with their new ideas fresh perspective and never say die attitude. To start with it felt like a false bravado but these Youngsters got about doing their thing what amazed me was the extent of sacrifice these guys were willing to go through, its almost extinct to expect anything these days… I was pleasantly surprised… Dan your thoughts Inspire me
Thanks Dr Sumani. Great story.
What factors resulted in getting “the Young Minds on board?”
Yes agree with above but when young leaders don’t include old leaders, and feel threatened by them, their experience and wisdom – young leaders do exactly the same, they exclude, don’t employ these older leaders if in a position to do do, and certainly don’t take advice – not always the case, but I’ve seen it happen
Thanks Zenobia. You remind me that leadership is partnership not dictatorship. Powerful
Younger leaders don’t say “we tried it before” – and they aren’t wedded to things that made it fail the first time around. Sometimes, stuff I tried and failed with ages back works now because younger people realise that the limitations I had back then (lack, e.g. of computer power, communications, collaborators etc) just don’t exist now! Sometimes we just remember that it failed, not why, and need someone else to just do it and show us!
Thanks Mitch. Glad you took that idea to a new place. “We just remember that it failed, not why…” That’s gold.
Young leaders bring to the table a different perspective. The object is to harness those perspectives in a manner that supports organizational goals and focus. The key is not necessarily to focus on who brings what but rather how new found ideas best serve the organization. Leaders listen!
Thanks Brent. “in a manner that supports organizational goals and focus.” Bingo!