Experience and Young Executives

5 Things Older Employees Can Learn From Younger Executives

The cards seem stacked for failure when a team of 50 to 60-year-olds learn they’re reporting to a 30-year-old manager brought in from the outside. Age difference. Less experience. New to the organization. All the stereotypical thinking slips to the forefront of their minds to block a more seasoned perspective.

Yet perspective may be exactly the prescription for increased productivity and satisfaction in such a work arrangement. Here’s why:


What Older Workers Can Learn From Younger Executives


Digital Technology as a Turbo-Charger

Young executives cut their teeth on the keyboard. Bring up a new task or project, and their first thought goes to automation. How do we automate this process? What software can handle this to free our staff for higher-level thinking and production?

In addition to digital fluency for purposes of personal productivity, many of the new product and service offerings they create for their organizations fall under the umbrella of technology. Technology ranks as the multiplier of choice.


Impatience As a Motivator

Impatience with the status quo drives younger professionals to innovate. Asking them to consider a five- or ten-year plan to change, improve, or upgrade something feels like a lifetime wasted. That urge to “just do it” can motivate them to work long hours against great odds to do meaningful work and to move the organization forward.

Impatience and energy flow together perfectly to resolve conflict, overcome impossible obstacles, and beat deadlines. These young executives may speed toward the finish line as if trying to finish a marathon at their personal best time.


The Power in Disruption

While others in the organization may have learned to “go along to get along,” young executives may have seized the power in disruption. Having read some of best authors and thinkers in the field of workplace disruption like Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell,  and Marcus Buckingham, they value change for the innovation and creativity it brings.

The by-products of disruption—alertness and instability—produce powerful concentration on things that need to change in general—systems, culture, assumptions, biases.


A Fresh Perspective

The longer you look at things, the less you see them. The fewer questions you ask about them. The more you accept them as unchangeable, undoable, unknowable, uninteresting, unnecessary.

Younger executives still find themselves in the seeing, asking, changing, doing, and discovering stages of their work life. The organization and their team benefits from that fresh perspective unshaded by the bias of experience.



With a long runway in front of them, younger executives have every reason to be optimistic about their work and career: A chance to distinguish themselves by building a brand based on their personal best. An opportunity to build a high-performing team as evidence of their leadership ability. A platform to gain visibility among their peers in other organizations for creating an outstanding product or service. An option to get paid handsomely for what they produce.


What’s not to be positive about in such a situation? No matter your age, these characteristics typically found in the young executive can be a positive motivator for you personally and for your team.


Be sure to catch next week’s blog, when I’ll be discussing “4 Things Young Executives Can Learn From Older Employees.”


For more thoughts on leadership communication, see the new book Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. Click here to download an excerpt.

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