Older and Wiser?
My favorite business article of 2019 (so far) was in the MIT Sloan Management Review with the same title as this post and the subtitle of “How Management Style Varies With Age.” This is a perfect segue after my riff yesterday about how young founders, who often have deep but narrow technical skills and fresh eyes for disruption, could be paired with seasoned leaders who are usually more adept at interpersonal collaboration and focusing on the big picture.
The five researchers studied 10,000 managers and found that management style varied more with age than any other characteristic, such as organizational position or gender. In other words, diversity is maximized by creating an intergenerational workforce and leadership team.
The study found that older managers put greater emphasis on core competencies, customer relationships, and other strategic factors central to a company’s identity, while younger managers were more focused on the company’s positioning in its competitive marketplace and their own positioning for career advancement.
Highly recommend you read the in-depth article as it reinforces what neuroscientists have suggested for decades. In general, the younger brain is quicker and more focused, while the older brain is more methodical and holistic. A team full of solely younger people will come to conclusions more quickly but make more mistakes. An older team does just the opposite. And, you guessed it, a team with mixed ages tends to (but not always) get the best of both worlds.