I recently began a 25-city tour hosting Chess Not Checkers workshops. Over the years, events like these have proved fertile ground for outstanding questions for the Today’s Challenge series. The audience is diverse but has a definite youthful bias – many of the leaders are early in their career. It was a young leader who asked, How do you Win the Heart of someone older and more experienced than you?
For those of you who are not familiar with the Chess Not Checkers lingo, here’s a link to a post on Win the Heart.
To Win the Heart is a priority for leaders who are trying to build a High Performance Organization. These leaders understand engagement energizes effort. The path to a person’s heart is unique for every individual, but there are some principles that can increase your odds of success – regardless of the age of the person in question.
In the Chess Not Checkers Field Guide, Randy Gravitt and I cover three best practices: Build Community, Share Ownership and Foster Dreams. I stand by these as three proven approaches. Here are a few additional ideas to help overcome any age bias you may encounter.
Listen – If you find yourself working with someone older and perhaps more experienced, you’ve got at least two reasons to listen to them. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It doesn’t mean you have to give away your decision-making authority, and it doesn’t mean you have to change your point-of-view… but you might. If you ask great questions, this will also increase the chances you can learn something in the process.
Respect – Honor, dignity and respect are an outstanding recipe for building trust and followship. They may also pave the way for you to win the heart. Never forget, not everyone sees the world the way you do. To be more accurate, NO ONE sees the world exactly the same as you. This does not mean everyone else is wrong. If you treat people the way you would like to be treated, your chances of winning their heart skyrockets.
Assist – What does the person in question want? Do you know? Really? Once you know what a person wants, help them achieve it. If they want more responsibility, help them prepare for the day they can be given more. If they desire more money, help them earn more. You must genuinely want to help them win at work. Hopefully, you can do much more – if you can help them win outside of work that is even better. That’s the big idea behind fostering dreams. Help people win and you have a great chance to win their hearts as a bonus!
Don’t be intimidated as you attempt to lead people older than you. You are in a leadership position because someone believes you can lead. Prove them right.[GLS_Shield]