• 26 Mar 2020
  • SBS-ED
  • 3Min

How to succeed as a younger leader or female among the ‘old guard’

How to succeed as a younger leader or female among the ‘old guard’

How to succeed in a managerial role as a young leader

Entering into a managerial role can be daunting especially when you are a young leader. Here are 4 tips to prepare leaders for new management positions.

In February it was announced that 37-year-old Harvesh Kumar Seegolam was appointed head of the Bank of Mauritius, unsurprisingly Seegolam is the youngest ever central bank governor for the island nation. His deputy, Hemlata Sadhna Sewraj-Gopal, is a woman. Whether or not their age and gender will impact their new positions is not clear, but there is a trend in both the public and private sectors to appoint people who haven’t traditionally fit the top job bill.

If, like Seegolam and Sewraj-Gopal, you are a leader who is younger than your predecessors or one of the first female leaders, there are some key learning that can be applied in the leadership role and help hone your management skills.

The ‘old guard’ should definitely feel that you are on their side and that you are open to working with them to co-create the best possible organisation with their assistance. Here are leadership tips to help navigate the new challenge.

4 tips to prepare young leaders for a new management position:

1. Don’t throw out all the old ways, subtly introduce improvements

Many young people enter a new role looking to completely change things up. But this can be very disruptive and cause a lot of unhappiness. It is likely there is room for improvement – otherwise the organisation wouldn’t have appointed someone a lot younger than the previous leaders – but there are also ways of doing things which work well and may be better left alone.

While the new leader shouldn’t shy away from making the improvements necessary to take the organisation forward, the best way to do so can be found in point 2.

2. Don’t dictate, collaborate

Bring your teams along for the ride by collaborating with them in identifying areas for improvement and collectively designing solutions. There are myriad tools and methods for workshopping as a team. These are far more effective and efficient than trying to solve problems solo. So bring the longer standing staff in on the innovation/problem-solving journey and the outcome will feel like a shared vision that everyone feels personal ownership of.

3. Be transparent and authentic

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and admit you don’t know everything or to tap into the wisdom and experience of others. If your teams like you as a person and relate to you well, they’ll support you and you’ll find achieving your goals a great deal easier.

4. Get to know the individuals in your team

Everyone on your team has a story, a past, a skill, a quirk. Spend time getting to know them individually so they feel seen and respected. If you have walked into a team that is resistant to your youth or gender, it will be a lot harder for them to collectively oppose your leadership if they feel that you genuinely care about who they are as people.

USB-ED Mauritius wishes these two outstanding individuals all the very best in their new roles at the central bank.


Enrol in USB-ED’s Management Development Programme course to gain the confidence and capabilities required to respond effectively to current and future business challenges.

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