Note from Art: with this post, I’m launching a new, on-going feature here at Management Excellence, focused on the issues and needs of later career leaders.
New and emerging leaders are our future. It’s essential to support their development as they take the reins in our challenging world. They are and will remain the focal point of my content here at Management Excellence.
However, there’s an audience whose needs in my opinion are grossly under-served in the career and leadership blogging and writing ecosystem: the later-career (read: over-50) senior leaders and executives.
Having spent a few years living in this demographic, I’ve listened as executive after executive has shared some form of the same set of needs outlined below. While most contemplate these issues in silence, I’ve learned that for many, they’re never far below the surface.
Here are a few of the comments/observations I’ve heard in recent months:
How do I juggle the demands of my role as a senior leader with a need to be more involved in my personal life?
I love to work. It’s not about work-life balance…it’s about doing the work I love. That’s balance for me.
How do I refresh and even transform myself and my career for this last leg of the journey?
How do I spend more time and energy focusing on significance and less on chasing success?
How do I detox from my 30-plus years of corporate life and regain my energy, fitness and sense of adventure?
Somewhere along the way, I lost myself. I want to get “me” back.
Something funny happens on your way through your career and life. You wake up one day and your priorities shift. The goals you chased for so long have largely been achieved. Yesterday’s pursuit of title and compensation seems shallow in hindsight. The traditional career track offers few new options, and yet, you are approaching the peak of your wisdom and experience with so much to give back somewhere to someone.
Oh, and at your last physical, the doctor suggested rather strenuously that you need to drop 30 and start moving or you’re facing a whole new host of problems in the not-too-distant future.
All writing is personal, and there’s no doubt this new and on-going feature is motivated by my own experiences and the experiences of many of my clients and colleagues over the past few years. I had the doctor visit mentioned above and it was considerably worse than described. Nine months later, I’m 40 pounds lighter and in the best shape of my life since I was 18. (My wife agrees.) I’m writing a new book, polishing a keynote and importantly, focusing all of my professional energies on helping great people develop and transform as effective leaders and happy people.
The over-50, experienced and wise crowd will continue to play a critical, meaningful role in this world. While there’s no doubt many traditional career options will be ruled out for this audience (yes, youth is highly valued in a world where ironically, youth plus wisdom will be essential for survival and success), there are remarkable challenges to be undertaken and accomplishments to be earned for those who have traipsed around the block of life for a number of decades.
Often, what’s needed is a nudge or a kick in the seat to help people move beyond a creeping sense of the end of the road and into action.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
There are some remarkable veins of gold to be tapped in mining the needs of the later-career leader. Here’s hoping we build a community of similar adventurers in this new feature and help a good number of great people apply their wisdom in new and meaningful ways. After all, your best work is still ahead of you. You’ve been practicing for it your entire career!
Up next in the series:
- Change your body, change your mind
- How to begin exploring options for your next act