Recently I have had a few more thoughts on what it looks like to lead well as you are “aging”. I have blogged about this in the past. I said it then and I will say it now-I am not old. I am a young buck of 54. Whatever.
Sometimes I see tendencies in me and in others that have the potential to block effective leadership left unaddressed. This can be especially true (and more subtle) the longer one leads. So here are three points of staying fresh while you lead old.
1. Regularly Invite the Input of Others-It’s interesting-when we are young in our leadership lives we fear the input of others that might be extremely helpful to us in developing well as a leader. Typically our self confidence and significance is overly tied to our position or title. So we dread the 360 review. But when we are older we ignore the input of others. We can tend to easily discount a good 360 review-especially if its being given by someone younger and with less experience. But if we want to finish well and stay fresh in our leadership we should seek out input and feedback on our lives on a regular basis. We never stop growing as a leader and we need the community of leaders to help us get there. Learn to listen well.
2. Refuse to Blame-I often see young and old leaders alike blame others or their circumstances for their leadership failures. When we are young it flows from immaturity-but when we are old it is more insidious. When we are older we blame to maintain our respectability as a leader. We dare not look bad. We have been leading others for years. Our reputation is more exposed and at stake when we are older. It is easy to develop a pattern of self protection that will go unquestioned-because it is difficult for the younger leader to challenge you on your own turf. But the blame game is pride in disguise. Choose not to do it. Investigate reality and choose to learn.
3. Cross the Divide-Actually I have stated this principle before. At some point in your leadership life you will report to someone younger than you. It is inevitable. Can you learn from a younger leader? Can you follow a younger leader? Can you receive constructive input from a younger leader? You better learn how. Because if God allows you to live a full life you will come to this divide. If you are fulfilling your true leadership mission (meaning, focused on raising up more leaders) you ought to purposefully surround yourself with younger leaders. Obviously this provides you with mentoring opportunities-it also provides you with rich learning opportunities. Will you step over the line?
I don’t know anyone who does not want to finish life well. All want to lead well till their last breath. So, if you are a 20 something leader or a 30 something leader-why not start now. It is never too soon to begin to put these principles to work. If you are an older leader-there is always time to make corrections. The choice is yours!