I read a lot of blogs and articles and a popular subject is ‘age’. I suppose it is one subject that quite literally affects us all, I celebrated my birthday just last week. As a result we all have opinions on what’s right and wrong when it comes to age and what is or isn’t acceptable.
The focus on age of course starts at birth when we were either premature, born on due date or overdue. Our progress and development is then monitored by age. Crawling, walking and speaking are skills to be learned by certain milestones or our parents begin to panic.
When we enter education this situation gets even worse and our IQs are tested on a regular basis with exams taken at set ages. When we enter the world of work our positions are questioned by others if we are deemed to have attained a level beyond our age and experience.
My philosophy on age is this; if you are good enough you are old enough and if you are old but still good enough, keep going!
I entered my first management role in my early twenties and the vast majority of my team were older than me, some considerably. I built and maintained the respect of my elders by acknowledging their maturity and experience and involving them rather than dictating to them. Did I have to work harder than other managers older than me? Yes I did. The best way to silence the critics is via performance.
Great managers and leaders that I have worked for (and with) had many key attributes in common. They all have the ability to inspire and motivate when needed and to calm and reassure when needed. They are all visionaries with a clear sight on the future as well as today. They build trust by delivering exactly what they say they will do, when they said they would do it. When things go well they attribute it to their team but when things go wrong they take personal responsibility. They have exceptionally high levels of emotional intelligence.
You will notice that age is not one of the common attributes above, quite simply this is due to the fact that the age of the leader is irrelevant!
Interestingly the word ‘manage’ is made up of two words, ‘man’ and ‘age’. I’m not sure if there is any historical meaning in this but if you know there is please let me know too?
Talking about age is one of the most common subjects discussed and its right up there with the weather. Guessing ages and/or deciding whether someone “looks good for their age” (or not) is a national sport! We judge people based on age far more than we do based on talent and this is just wrong. When it comes to employment and recruitment it is also illegal.
I hate prejudice of any description but especially that of age, I meet young people with experiences and knowledge beyond their years. I also meet older people that have been forced out of jobs that they loved and were brilliant at, just because they hit an age milestone.
When it comes to management, forget age, just check ability!
Head of Training
Originally published: 6 November, 2013