This isn’t necessarily a unique phenomenon in our society, but as the Baby Boomers continue to age and many taking on non-leader roles within our organizations, these older employees are now finding themselves reporting to bosses much younger than themselves. Many times these younger bosses have a lot less experience doing the job, make common new leader mistakes and flat out don’t know how to communicate with subordinates that are as old as their parents and/or grandparents!
So, what can an older employee do to help out this situation?
There was a great example of this recently with the payment startup company Clinkle who was founded by 22 year old Lucas Dulpan. Dulpan needed an experienced COO and found it in former Netflix CFO and much older, Barry McCarty. The fact of the matter is, Barry has much more knowledge and experience running this type of company than Lucas. So, how do you deal with is obvious situation? From Jason Del Ray at Business Insider, here’s how McCarty describes it:
Jason Del Rey: What does your role entail?
Barry McCarthy: Well, Lucas is the CEO. I work for him. I want to be unambiguously clear about that. He’ll continue to focus on product and engineering. My primary focus will be everything else.
Jason Del Rey: Do you believe Lucas can be the long-term CEO of a giant payments company?
Barry McCarthy: Absolutely. And if he’s not, then I will feel like I have not served him as well as I could have.
BAM! That my friends is called Servant Leadership. You support the leader, in this case Lucas, by serving that person with all the positive intent and direction that you can humanly provide. What McCarty understands, because of his vast experience, is that it’s not about him getting noticed. Those who know the industry will know that he did his job exceptionally, and that is what really matters.
What to know how to best get along with your younger boss? Stop trying to do their job, and start helping them do their job. Lift them up, make them the star and everyone will see what you did to make that happen. You win. Your boss wins. The organization wins. Isn’t that really the goal?