1. Being reliable is key.
“As a young leader, I used to feel insecure about my ability to lead professionals who are much older than me. People are motivated by different things, and you can’t just be a ruthless taskmaster and expect compliance [and] results. I [want] to understand the motivations of each member of my team and use that knowledge to get things accomplished. I simply try to carry myself as a polished professional and only speak when I can add value to the conversation. It also helps to just be trustworthy and follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Age becomes less of an issue the more reliable you are.” —Joey, 28
2. It’s not the smartest idea to become best friends.
“You are not your employees’ friend. Be friendly and supportive but be an
authority. Also, Never ask for more from your team than you’re willing to do or give
yourself. Always show that you’re expecting more of yourself than them.” —Mishri, 30
3. You should strive to be a teacher, not a teller.
“It’s not about telling someone what to do and when to do it. It’s about teaching them how to do it, empowering them to try (and fail), providing support if they do, holding them accountable to delivering results and then celebrating the heck out of successes.” —Megan, 33
4. Providing clear instructions helps bridge the age gap.
“Provide very clear and simple instructions with a specific deadline for accountability. As my co-founder, Elle, and I manage a distributed team of graphic designers, web designers/developers, and video producers around the world, this is critical to ensuring that their work is done properly and in a timely manner. If instructions are unclear or there is no due date, don’t be surprised when you find out they have not started a week later or went an entirely different direction than you envisioned.” —David, 26
5. Advocating for those you manage builds trust.
“Be an advocate for those you manage. Once they earn your trust (very important first step), reward them by giving them the benefit of the doubt when things go awry or an issue presents itself. Let them know that you have their back, and stand up to that client when the occasion calls for it. Earning the trust of those you manage and advocating for them in tough situations results in an open line of communication that I’ve found makes team members more willing to come to the table when a problem is in its infancy. This allows us to work together swiftly to squash a potential issue before it begins, which means happier clients and team members at the end of the day.” —Lauren, 30