What Old Leaders Can Teach New Leaders

August 25, 2022

mentoring a young man

Overview: Intelligent leadership understands the value of what older leaders can teach the leaders of tomorrow. Leadership coaching itself is a form of mentorship through which coaches and experienced leaders can transfer knowledge to their younger peers, helping them build reservoirs of positive leadership references vicariously.

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey. 

Mentorship is a tried and trusted method of developing new leaders. Organizations that embrace a culture of mentorship are more successful than those that don’t. Mentorship ensures the transfer of knowledge in the organization and healthy succession, making sure the learned lessons of the past aren’t forgotten.

Mentorship is about older leaders stepping up and helping younger generations, giving them a chance to build up their reservoir of positive leadership references without having to repeat mistakes of the past. Leadership coaching itself is a form of mentorship that works.

Leaders Who Have Been Through the Mill Can Teach Plenty to the Leaders of Tomorrow

Anyone in a position of experience can mentor someone. Mentorship is effective so long as the parties involved understand a mentor’s job is not to walk ahead and show the student “how it’s done” or how they did it. A mentor walks alongside you and shows you what you can do.

Old leaders can show young successors what right looks like. Old leaders know how to get into the correct leadership mindset and recognize strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, old leaders can help new leaders create a set of leadership references vicariously, thus building a solid base for their inner cores.

Much of What Used to Work Still Works Today

Although we tend to equate the past with rigid authority and hierarchy-based structures, we’d be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater if we chose to write it all off as a monumental, worldwide exercise in failure. Many leaders of days gone by contributed to what we know as intelligent leadership. Many of today’s leaders will go on to define leadership of the future.

Even in the days of vertical, patriarchal leadership structures, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, empathy, and focuses on employee empowerment worked. Old leaders have plenty of other lessons to teach us.

Owning Up to Your Mistakes

Showing vulnerability and admitting you don’t always have the best answers are not new ideas in executive coaching.

In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie established honesty and vulnerability as traits that “raise one above the herd” over 80 years ago.

Being honest about your mistakes is empowering those with whom you work. On one hand, it tells them you are human and regard yourself as such. However, it also lets them know you place higher importance on the common good than on keeping up meaningless appearances.

Leadership is Lifelong Learning

Theodore Roosevelt recognized people only have something to teach others so long as they’re willing to learn. Since leaders should act like mentors and teachers, they’re only effective for as long as they’re willing to act like students.

Lifelong learning notes.
We’re all lifelong students.

With the world around us changing and transforming at an ever-accelerating pace, the position of lifelong learning in leadership has never been more obvious.

You Can Only Manage What You Can Measure

In an age of big data, we know that to manage something, we must find a way to measure it objectively. Peter Drucker was ahead of his time when he recognized the measurement of results and accountability were just as important to an organization’s effectiveness as doing a job itself.

Hiring People Smarter Than You

Intelligent leaders understand the importance of attracting top talent and hiring smart people. The best leaders know they need people smarter than themselves to handle aspects of an organization they may not fully be equipped to handle.

Some advice is timeless. Old leaders can ensure their younger peers don’t have to waste resources or make sacrifices to rediscover timeless wisdom.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

back to “news”