Can age affect leadership abilities? We constantly evolve as a person and so does our leadership skills. Leadership abilities take time to develop. Once an employee shows signs of potential to be leader, managers need to step in and start guiding them in towards becoming an effective leader. Leadership knows no age, race, or gender. Leadership abilities simply shine when given the right opportunity. Situations can sometimes present at just the right time and with the right project and at these moments people can demonstrate their innate abilities to lead.
Some do question, does age affect leadership abilities, but this is usually a question posed by some seasoned leaders that had grown with their company and gradually progressed up the ladder and feel that leaders need to have long term experience to be successful. Typically, they are leaders in companies, be in upper management and more mature, and know the ins and outs of the company’s operations and regulations. They may have been among the people who have founded and/or strengthened the foundation of the company.
Being mature and of age has its pros and cons in being a leader and especially in the leadership abilities and qualities that one has. But let’s look at the pros and cons of how age affects leadership abilities:
- Wisdom – as a seasoned leader, you have the wisdom to make good, sound, and firm decisions. You know the market/industry very well and are able to predict the outcome of certain decisions due to this experience.
- Firm – A senior leader does not become easily swayed with trends and unexpected shifts in the market. A mature leader banks on proven and effective measures in tackling or running the company.
- Loyalty – Staying with the company for several years and moving up from the ranks shows loyalty. Makes a good role model for the younger generation, the younger leaders of the company.
- Resistant to change – Old leaders in companies are the most difficult to convince that change is necessary. They firmly believe that “if it is not broken, why to fix it?” It takes time for them to accept the possibility of changing protocols and procedures.
- Challenged in adapting – Once the need for change is accepted, there can be difficulty in adapting to it. There is a saying “hard to teach old dogs new tricks.” In the business world, it is not teaching the senior leaders how to change but how to go about in accepting every aspect of the change that is happening.
- Difficulty in letting go – Senior leaders stay in position for some time simply because they feel comfortable in the role and are not prepared to move on to another more challenging role. They also might find it hard to pass the responsibility of the role to a younger leader assuming that a younger leader may not have the experience to‘handle the heat’.
The same thing in being a young leader. As a young leader, your decisions and actions are always on the radar of the seniors in the company. There is a constant need for a young leader to not just advertise but enhance their leadership abilities for them to secure their position in the company.
Younger leaders are bold and courageous and most of the time they surprise the company, the board, the workforce because they either meet and exceed expectations or they fail. However, most of the time, the other sectors of the company expect younger leaders to fail.
- Fresh Ideas – a young executive oftentimes has innovative ideas. This is because they are so used to thinking outside the box. Not just settling for what is effective and what is working. These young leaders show that they move and think fast by evaluating processes and procedures regularly.
- In the Know – younger leaders can be more aware of the latest trends and what is hot. They talk about trends, discuss possible reactions, come up with new ideas and action plans. They are so energetic and hopeful that they often feel compelled to come up with programs and evaluations to source out information that may grow the company which is so vital for a company’s success.
- Competitive – Young leaders are known to be competitive which drives them to succeed whereas senior managers can become complacent in their role.
- Too competitive – at times, younger professionals are too competitive and can undervalue employee experience and loyalty, perhaps forgetting that senior leaders have had years of competition and are where they are because of their savvy know how, abilities and skills.
- Too aggressive – Youth gives hope, that is what they say. However, when the younger leaders rush into decisions and planning, this may at times be too risky or too costly for the company.
- Credibility – A young leader’s ability and credibility would always be questioned, and projects may be more difficult to get approved. This can make a young leader, more aggressive, to persuade upper management to take risks. They have something to prove while more mature managers have had first-hand experience to base their judgment and decisions from.
Again, does your age affect leadership abilities? Yes it does. This is a fact. In a perfect world, it should not. Both have different positives. Senior or older leaders bank on proven strategies and action plans while younger more junior leaders take risks with newer plans brought about by thinking outside the box. Regardless of age, leadership abilities should not be judged by age. The older leaders need to learn to adapt faster, welcome change, and listen to the market trends. Whereas the younger leaders must take the senior leaders’ opinions and suggestions into consideration because they have been in the industry long enough to make decisions from experience.
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