The Age of Leadership

Debra_BuckleyDebra Buckley

CEO of the New Zealand Institute of Management and Leadership.

The recent debate about the retirement age in New Zealand is certainly something to think about, including within a leadership context.

For instance, does it follow that if ‘50 was the new 40’… it will now be replaced with ‘50 being the new 60′?

Initially I thought that extending tenure in a leadership role by a further two years could feel like a long haul, especially if you acquired this responsibility at age 25, as is often the case now. It is probably a reflection of my own age/generation that I had acquired much more experience before the word ‘leadership’ surfaced in my own career ambitions.

This year, two members of my team have celebrated as their own children take a leap into the world of adulthood and personal leadership. One is embarking on a career as a nurse and the other shifting cities and diving head-first into university.

Allowing for three years of further study and another three years to develop their trade, if they are in a leadership role at age 24 and retire at 67 years of age, they will have had 43 years in a leadership capacity. If that had been me, knowing this, would I have signed up? I am not certain.

One impressive attribute I have noticed in young leaders in 2017 could be described as an evolution in their readiness to contribute in meaningful ways.

In a recent Emerging Leaders programme, I was astonished by how ‘connected’ these young leaders are in their thinking. They are conscious that the role of a leader impacts not only business, it extends to family, society as well as politics.

One of their first programme tasks was to craft for themselves a defining ‘leadership quote’ and one of these particularly resonated with me: “Leadership is a state of mind whereby we influence ourselves and others to achieve a shared goal”.

Reflecting upon our discussions and thinking about my own contribution to the development of the next generation of leaders, I saw a correlation to the wider debate about the age of retirement.

My conclusion is that two more years may not make much difference at all. The retirement age set by our political leaders is more about finance than it is about wider contribution or leadership maturity.

My greater pre-occupation is that in the final years of my career I am still a leader who will be able to contribute and make a difference – by then, in even more ways than I do today.

Author: magazinestoday

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