It is not uncommon as a leader to have followers who are older than you. Age differences should be acknowledged but they don’t have to be uncomfortable. Here are three ways to be an effective young leader:
1) Participate in active listening. Respect the wisdom of an older member or employee. Listen to their ideas and the information they feel compelled to share with you. Spend time getting to know them and building trust. The best practice is to ask more than you tell.
2) Be confident. Remember that you earned your position or job for a reason. Your sisters elected you because they thought you would make a fantastic chapter president and your boss promoted you to manager because she knew you could get the job done. If you are uncertain, your followers will be, too.
3) Show them how hard you work. Everyone wants to have a leader that puts in the effort. Make yourself available as often as possible, answer e-mails in an appropriate time frame and work with your door open or in an open but quiet area. Always communicate new developments, ideas or events. Any time you can inform your members or employees about something you have created or produced it helps them see your work.
4) Recognize great ideas. With anyone you are leading, younger or older, recognizing their contributions is important to becoming a leader they will respect. Sharing the spotlight and cheering them on shows that you are a teammate and not the competition.