Taking a leadership role in any company is an exciting, and daunting undertaking. Having to manage and lead employees with more experience and seniority than yourself can add another layer of nerves. While it is your job to lead every employee, many young CEOs also don’t want to step on their senior employees’ toes.
Joe Trammel, who was a young CEO himself, comments on the unique experience of leading your elders:
“More experienced employees should always reflect your values and manage their teams your way, provided that you give them consistent guidance.”
For young CEO’s, there are three insecurities that can hold them back from being the leaders they are capable of. These three insecurities are “inexperience, imprudence, and the perception that you have not yet earned the right to be taken seriously,” according to Stewart Coopercoon.
For a successful reign as CEO, these insecurities need to be taken down mentally before a successful job can be done. To combat the perceived “lack of experience,” it is key for young CEO’s to recognize that, “Truth be told, experience is an excellent teacher. But it’s not the only teacher.” It was skill that earned a CEO position, and young leaders can honor their success while learning from the seasoned professionals around them.
This lack of experience feeds into the “imprudence” insecurity. As years give professionals insights and lessons, the lesser amount harbored by younger CEOs can be worrying. However, this isn’t anything to be intimidated by. The experience, lessons, and wisdom is out there waiting to be tapped into. Accepting that your coworkers may have more of this than you is key.
From there, look forward to the guaranteed lessons coming your way. Going for leadership training before stepping into the leader’s shoes can be very helpful in such cases.
The final stereotype combats the concern that you haven’t earned your place in leadership. As qualified as you may be, it is key to remember that trust isn’t freely given, it is earned. It is true that to be respected in the office, you must prove yourself to your employees and coworkers. By establishing a regular routine comprised of efficiency as a leader, this insecurity will be put to rest.
Going into a company as a younger CEO, there are several tips to keep in mind for a successful reign. First and foremost, a strong start is key to a successful finish. As intimidated as you may (or may not) be, it is essential to set boundaries and standards for those reporting to you, from day one. Not only will this show that you’re able to make the big moves required of a CEO, but it will establish you as someone the company should take seriously. While it can be tempting to be more flexible and easygoing in order to gain the favor of your employees, trying to be a buddy and a boss will ultimately backfire. Starting out friendly but firm allows those under you to view you as a leader, regardless of age.
The best kind of company functions as a democracy, not patriarchy. Make sure that your employees’ voices are expected, heard, and respected. A practical way to implement feedback through your leadership is allotting a survey to your employees. This can be sent out weekly, monthly, or however often you deem best. This step is beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, this act reiterates the fact that your team members have a voice in the company. While they may not be CEO’s, your employees matter, and their contributions do too. Acknowledging this makes them far more likely to respect you as a leader of a group. Secondly, your team’s feedback is valuable to the success of the company. More experienced employees can offer insight beyond your years, the team can comment on your leadership style, and overall improvements can be made.
Being in a position of power enables you to train your company’s future leaders. As a CEO, the ability to train, mentor, and guide those working under you is a personal privilege. This system strengthens the company as a whole, as well as uses the expertise of a CEO to invest in rising professionals. Steve Robbins emphasizes the power of a CEO, “What is the CEO’s main duty? Setting strategy and vision. The senior management team can help develop strategy. Investors can approve a business plan. But the CEO ultimately sets the direction. Which markets will the company enter? Against which competitors? With what product lines? How will the company differentiate itself? The CEO decides, sets budgets, forms partnerships, and hires a team to steer the company accordingly.”
Regardless of age or experience, taking on more responsibility in your profession is an adjustment. Often, this promotion can bring up feelings of insecurity and fear (as well as excitement!). So don’t worry and take the plunge.
: Kathy Amato is the Director of Marketing at Coggno.com, a website that aggregates online training courses and also offers a free Learning Management System.