You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. Hi, I’m Kevin. I am very answering the questions that new leaders ask us. Actually, it’s our goal to help all leaders be more effective, productive, successful, and confident. And to do that, I’m going to answer the questions I get asked, including, how do I lead people older than I am? Are you ready?

Let’s get started.

It’s a common and an understandable question. Listen, I got people older than me on my team. How do I lead them? Now, listen, you can look at me and say, for the most part, Kevin, you don’t have that problem anymore. Although there is a couple of our a couple people on our team that are older than I am.

It’s not really my challenge now, but it has been, and I’ve helped lots of people think this through. So before I answer the question, I have some other questions for you to consider to help you determine your answer. Again, how do I lead the people older than I am? My first question back to you is, why does this bother you?

Like, why is this a concern for you? Do do you feel like I need to show respect to them and as their boss, how do I do that? Well, I would say as a leader, we ought to always respect all of our team members for who they are. So I don’t think it has to be that. I would just encourage you to think about why does it bother you? I mean, have you had them say something to you? Are you noticing something from them that leads you to think that they’re uncomfortable with it? Think about that first, and then ask yourself this question. Is it in your own head? If they’ve not said anything, if it doesn’t seem strange from their behavior, then maybe this is just something you’re in your own head that you just need to let go of.

Right. And then the other thing is, well, if if you do feel a little bit funny because you’re younger than members of your team, I would ask you to consider this question. How can you use that age difference to mutual advantage? Listen, even if you’re the leader, there are things that you can learn from your team regardless of their age.

And if you got someone on your team that’s senior to you by 5, 10, 15, 20 years, they certainly have experiences at work and in life that might be useful to you. So think about how you can add gain value from them and their experience acknowledging that in conversation. And secondly, there may be things that you can add value for them with not just because you’re the boss, but because you have a different perspective than they do. So think about using this difference as a place for mutual advantage.

And then lastly, acknowledge the difference when needed. But don’t overthink it. What I’ve found in many cases is at the end of the day, this ends up being in our own head and that really the biggest problem is ours and not with the other person. Make sure there’s really something here before you do anything. But if you do, use the examples in the thoughts that I’ve just shared with you here.

Let me close with today’s tweet. The best leaders make age differences on their team an advantage, not something to be concerned, worried or anxious about. I hope you found this useful.

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to address on a future episode, click right here. Leave us a message. Or if you want to be more anonymous, send an email to We’ll take those questions into consideration and you might see yours here in a future episode. There are plenty of resources on the site you see here. I hope you’ll take advantage of those. And especially if you’re watching on YouTube, I hope you’ll subscribe so you can get all of our future videos.

And if you are in the position of being younger as a leader, being new in your leadership role and want to get more effective, I’d encourage you to take a look at our Bud to Boss Workshop and the link to that you’ll also find right here. Thanks for joining us. I look forward to seeing you on a future episode.

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group ( He has spent nearly 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.
Twice he has been named by as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists.

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