4 Ways to Succeed as a Young Manager

Getting promoted to a management position at a young age deserves a hearty congratulations! But it can also be quite the challenge, especially if many members of your team are older than you.

Young managers walk a fine line, balancing the need to demonstrate their capabilities on the one hand without alienating their older team members on the other. It can be tough to gain the respect needed to be an effective leader when others perceive you as new and untested, or automatically balk against your ideas because of your age.

Read on for some tips to get you started, and be sure to leave your own advice for young leaders in the comments.

Tap your connections for advice

What you may not have in management experience, you can make up in building a diverse network of people to serve as advisors. Try to find a range of people you trust to bounce ideas off of or ask for advice. Maybe you already have a mentor at the company, or an old manager whose opinions you trust. Maybe you have a longtime friend or younger colleague who always brings a fresh perspective to your situation. Maybe your old professor is still happy to dole out advice over coffee from time to time.

As you come up against problems, it’ll be helpful to have a network of people to act as your support system. Don’t just limit yourself to people you know personally – think about important figures, writers, and teachers whose thought leadership you already follow. You may not be able to meet in person (although it doesn’t hurt to send them an email if you’re respectful), but you can still soak up their advice through their public writings or speeches.

Be confident, but not arrogant

When approaching a team that’s older than you, you need to balance confidence with humility. It can be easy to confuse “sticking to your guns” with confidence, especially if you feel like you need to prove yourself. You may feel the need to show off your knowledge and your expertise to your team in order to win their respect – but that can be a dangerous path.

Instead, take the time to really understand what you’re talking about, and to be able to articulate your thoughts clearly. Remember that being confident doesn’t mean clinging to your opinions, right or wrong. If you show yourself to be thoughtful, knowledgeable, and willing to listen to others you’ll quickly earn your team’s respect.

Get to know your team

This is especially important if the team was well-established before you took over the helm. Take time to meet with each team member individually to learn their strengths and skill sets, and to build up your knowledge of how your team works together. How do they like to communicate? What are their meetings like? Where are the rough spots in their processes? How do they like to receive feedback?

Earn your team’s respect by treating them fairly, being open and appreciative, and seeking to understand them. As you get to know your team, you may find places to make improvements – but especially as a young manager it’s important to learn everything you can first, so you can articulate exactly why certain changes need to be made.

Trust your team

As a leader, your job isn’t to be the expert in all things – it’s to organize and manage the team of experts you’ve been given leadership of. Provide your team with the tools and resources to do their jobs, make sure they’re all aligned towards the same goals, and then get out of their way.

Your job is team-building. Your job is clearing obstacles, helping people find their motivation, and making sure their energies are focused in the right directions. Things might not always be smooth sailing for your team, but as a manager it’s your job to make sure you’re not part of the problem.

Do you have any advice for young leaders? Leave it in the comments.


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Replace the word “older” with “seasoned”, respect given is respect earned, don’t micro-manage, don’t be a controller, and don’t try to manipulate someone who has been around a lot longer than you.


Great advice Joyce. I find that young managers have the skill set such as creating an elaborate spread sheet. However, they lack the critical thinking skills and the experience of wisdom.

Eva Fulton

great insight! I would also say it is easily applicable to millennials joining offices especially in light of being an intern or other fellow programs


When a conversation becomes challenging, or you’re just not seeing eye to eye – never be afraid to say, “I need some time to think about this…” and set a time for you to reconvene. This gives you time to collect your thoughts, consult you advisors or manager, and provide a professional and respectful response. It also keeps you in control of your emotions and that goes a long way in earning respect and a positive outcome!


Everyone should keep in mind that the young manager has plenty to offer just as the seasoned staffer has plenty to offer and each must take the time to learn what that is. Additionally, never say never I heard a young manager that had been with an office a relatively short time say “we have never done that” when in fact the off had done the very hing she was speaking about however the manager was too new or young to be aware of it. Young or seasoned, new or old keep an open mind and ears.

mr. jack

Never expect more of your team member’s than you’d expect of yourself! Also, make yourself
aware of members mental, physical and family/personnel limits. As a young single manager at one point of my life I neglected to keep in mind that other employees might have commitments outside of the work place that I didn’t as a single person.