Why Leaders Get Better With Age

Companies prize young talent. And rightly so. In an era of instant communication, they need young, tech-savvy leaders who can help them to get things done faster.

Still, speed by itself doesn’t equate to business success. Sydney Finkelstein wrote about this in a recent BBC article. In it, he recalls the classic Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. It’s the plodding tortoise, and not the speedy hare, that crossed the finish line first.

Experience may not bring speed – but it does bring wisdom and other traits/abilities. Among them:

Perspective – Age brings a greater ability to reflect and put into context what is happening around you.

Deeper compassion – This extends to the people in your life, both at work and at home.

A dose of reality – The illusion of perfection has long gone.

Empathy – “Once you’ve live a little, it becomes harder to go about your work without paying closer attention to colleagues and empathizing with those around you,” writes Finkelstein.

An ability to motivate others – That’s because you better understand what makes them tick.

An appreciation for details – Leaders who have been around the block a few times can’t help but see the nuances and subtleties of work that less-experienced managers do not see.

Acceptance of life’s ups and downs – As Finkelstein puts it, “You’ve seen bear markets and not just bull markets.”

Experienced leaders don’t always make the right calls, of course. But they have a lot going for them. Remember that as you plan your entrepreneurial endeavor.  A plodding tortoise isn’t a bad thing.


About Lynne Strang

I'm a freelance writer who helps organizations and individuals meet their marketing and communications goals. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." To learn more, please visit my website: lynnebeverlystrang.com.
This entry was posted in Business, Career Changes, Careers, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Retirement, Success and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Why Leaders Get Better With Age

  1. lizstincelli says:

    Reblogged this on lizstincelli and commented:
    As we age as leaders, I hope we make the effort to share the wisdom we have gained through many hard lessons with the youth following behind us.

  2. Thanks for this post. Just for the record, I usually can get things done quicker than my 24 year old daughter who is a pro at social media. LOL. Seriously, though, I thank you for this post because a lot of people I know in their 40s and 50s find themselves being pushed aside and it is incumbent on us wiser folks to stake a claim for what we know and make ourselves relevant.

  3. Face Value says:

    Reblogged this on Porcelain Rouge and commented:
    This article makes me excited that as I get older I will be able to offer more and more to the business community.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      Good for you! There are plenty of ways to give back — such as through volunteer work or public speaking, to provide just a couple of examples. Thanks for the reblog!

  4. Excellent post. I think empathy is perhaps the most compelling of the traits listed. I think it helps leaders choose a course of action that will have everyone feeling and working better long-term.

  5. juliezimmer says:

    Thanks, Lynne. We often need to slow down and listen. People in their 50s and 60s have incredible depth and perspective. They may appear slow and out of line, but they have so much to give beyond the fast paced social media skills. Let’s not push them and each other aside.

    • Lynne Strang says:

      Some of the best startups involve young-old partnerships, enabling them to move quickly yet still embrace the older partner’s depth and perspective that you mentioned. Thanks for reading.

  6. vendermejor says:

    Reblogged this on vendermejor and commented:
    Para reflexionar

  7. Jerell Boyd says:

    I love what you said about perspective. I’m 27, and year by year my patience seems to get stronger and stronger (I’m very anxious to be successful but not wise enough achieve it yet). I’m not over 40 but I am excited to know that there is a lot to gain from just living and experiencing. Really good post. 🙂

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