In generations past, tenure was often the biggest predictor of whether someone would be promoted to a leadership role. Things have changed, though. In many workplaces today, anyone who is qualified may find themselves managing others.

One study shows that roughly 4 in 10 workers have or have had a younger boss – but reporting to someone younger can sometimes lead to disdain among older workers.

Arielle Gordis, a content marketing manager at, says employees with younger bosses may have doubts about their manager’s experience and decision-making abilities. Older and younger workers may also clash over tone of voice and speed of work.

If you’re a younger manager yourself, how can you successfully lead a team that may include people older than you? Read on. We share some of Gordis’ ideas in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

Embrace your role. Remember that you were selected to be a leader for a reason. Be proud of what you have achieved and believe you’re capable. If you worry your employees won’t take you seriously because of your age, they won’t.

Lead with respect. Show respect to get respect. Some ways you can do this include taking time to talk one-on-one with each employee. Ask for their ideas and input and what they may need from you as their boss. This helps you set the tone and position yourself as a qualified leader.

Be honest. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you should be open and honest with your team. Gordis recommends that, whenever possible, you share the strategies you’re thinking about or the challenges your organization is facing.

Adjust language and expectations. When you’re overseeing a team of people who are mostly older than you, keep in mind the generational differences. Be considerate that not everyone will know certain lingo, Gordis says, and always try to convey confidence through your language. In other words, try to eliminate words like “um” and “like.”

Recognize your employees. Surprise them with a promo gift on their work anniversary or to thank them for a job well done. When you give meaningful recognition, you show that you’re confident enough to hand over the spotlight.

Create a team knowledge base. Everyone on your team has valuable knowledge they can share. Help facilitate this knowledge-sharing by asking individual employees to share their insights and best practices with the rest of the group.

Get to know your employees as people. Work is just one part of your employees’ lives. You can lead well when you get a sense of what they may be facing outside of work. For example, working parents may need some flexibility in their working hours, Gordis says.

Trust yourself. You may not have as much work experience as others, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be successful as a leader. When you’re willing to learn and you can confidently make decisions, you already have a solid foundation.

The most effective leaders know how to engage and inspire their teams. If you happen to oversee a team with people older than you, consider the guidance above to connect with your employees and hone your leadership skills.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Arielle Gordis is a content marketing manager at