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News

Leadership Consultant: Senior Executives Should Embrace Their Younger Co-Workers

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 18, 2024

iStock-165645906 Cross-generational learning, knowledge, keys

As many executives 65 and older continue to work, one reason given for why they are asked to stay is that companies are afraid of, or not prepared for, change. To ease the transition from an older generation, leaders should embrace, rather than fear, their younger co-workers, wrote Bill Adams, CEO of The Leadership Circle, a consulting firm, in Fast Company.

Adams offered three reasons why.

The first is work-life balance. Many older leaders don’t actually want to work forever, and bringing more millennials into the C-suite would remind them to take care of themselves and avoid burnout, Adams wrote. As companies are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their policies on employees’ physical and psychological safety, and with younger generations entering the executive ranks, “producing a supportive environment is not only more humane, but is also in the best interest of companies because a supportive environment ensures that top talent is at their healthiest and happiest,” he wrote. Building intergenerational connections can help end burnout, he added.

The second reason is relevance. A natural generational transition gives companies “a new opportunity to become more relevant,” he wrote. Diversity of race, gender, and generation “can offer different perspectives from different experiences, and can hold relevant conversations with its audiences.”

Finding that younger workers see the world in a radically different way than more experienced leaders, Adams advocated conversations between different generations in the C-suite; if such converations don't happen, he wrote, “companies will never be able to retain their top talent across generations, let alone speak to the rapidly changing social and economic landscape.”

Adams' third reason is longevity. “Having young people in the room can also support a company’s longevity,” he wrote, noting that the lack of succession planning in many instances can result in “significant gaps in many teams’ organizational structure,” as well as the missing expertise of departed older, experienced workers. “Placing younger generations in leadership roles can support continuity and ease the transition when torches are passed,” he wrote. “When older leaders embrace other generations, young leaders will be better prepared and ready to steer the ship without causing too much of a storm.”

“Companies need a mix of age and experience to build a holistic, peer-reviewed, and vetted perspective on strategy,” Adams wrote in conclusion. “If the old guard wants to preserve its legacy, it’s time to bring in the leaders who will carry their mission forward.”