In my last oraganisation I had this wonderful opportunity of leading a set of team members, all of whom, were either elder to me in age or were much more experienced in that industry. To add to this I had collegues who had children in colleges or looking for jobs. I was like a management trainee in front of them. However the role was of a business unit head and I was expected to deliver performance very quickly. My honeymoon ended in one month and I was asked to take the challenges head on and turn the business around without losing time. Initial days were very tough with no one really interested in listening and almost every time I got up to speak my mind I got challenged left, right and center. I did not know what was hitting me. I was frustrated and demotivated. The thoughts of taking a flight out of organisation came so often to me. However I was determined not to be a failure and so I decided to take a few steps as follows:
a) Developed micro understanding of the business and the challenges it was facing by visiting customers at regular intervals. This was because I firmly believe what customers can teach no one can.
b) Started to have regular team meetings in which I started listening more to my experienced team members. That gave confidence to my team members that as a leader I was not trying to thrust myself on them. In return they also started to hear me more.
c) Next was to demonstrate agility and speed in decision making. This was directed towards resolving many long pending customer issues. The issue resolution helped release the stress that had built within the organisation because of which people were taking a stance and were being more rigid/closed in their approach.
d) Other important step was to resolve HR issues of each and every team member. I utilised the “Half Yearly Review Process” effectively to ensure that each one them get due recognistion for their contribution. That was a booster dose as for the first time someone was trying to make them feel that they were required. The business developed good momentum and is now rocking the competition hard.
e) Lastly I never missed an opportunity to celebrate the ” Wins ” howsoever small they were. That created a sense of ” We can do it”.
Net Net what I learnt was that age is no bar for demonstrating leadership. It is all in the mind and if you are determined to make a difference there are whole lot of ways you can make a difference to you, your team and to the business.