Looking to your business's elders for advice or historical perspective often creates an emeritus status for them. Ask them for their advice not only because you want to keep them involved, but also because they have some terrific ideas.
Often, a retired leader will be willing to take on a project that others don't have time for. Whatever the project, it takes on greater significance simply because an erstwhile leader is spearheading it.
Remember to honor and respect your elders, and show it in traditional ways. And make no mistake about the effect that respect and honor for elders has on your employees. It can add to the esprit de corps within a company. And when employees feel good about their company, their enthusiasm is communicated to customers, and customers have a higher degree of satisfaction with the product the company provides.
It's important to keep in mind, however, that respect for elders doesn't mean younger generations shouldn't make changes. Those executives in their 30s, 40s and 50s will be leading their family businesses into the new millennium-and they need to use their gifts, talents and insights just as their elders did in their leadership days.