I have the privilege of leading people. Every morning that I wake up, I realize that the responsibility that I have been given is a precious one. I lead some great people…most of whom are older than me.
During a morning connection and conversation time with my lovely assistant, the question came up. How do you lead those people who are older than you? As we began to talk about this and as I shared my own experience as a leader, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes in the Bible from Paul, the Apostle to Timothy, a younger leader. He says, “Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father.” Later, he says, “Treat older women as you would your mother…”
There are many of us who will find ourselves in leadership positions where we are responsible for and/or in authority over those who are older than us. This reality does not have to be a daunting nor perplexing one. Particularly, if we take Paul’s advice for our own contexts.
Lead with Respect. Those of us who are younger have a wonderful opportunity as leaders to lead others with respect.
1) Go out of your way to honor those people who are older than you.
2) Ask for their wisdom on a decision that you must make.
3) Ask them what it was like for them to live through important historical events and what it’s like to see so much change in our world.
4) Ask them to share with you what they have learned over the course of their lives in work and business and life.
Do you see a theme here? When you “ask” something from someone else, you humble yourself and show them that they have something of value to pass on to you. Maybe these lovely people are in your life for a very specific purpose. Because they have much to pass on and we have much to learn from their own journeys.