The 'A' game: What role does age play in leadership?

Sunday 8th December, 2019

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i o o ; ~ e ot g P T M i FO ~ p ) " y 2 1 s ~n 5 o .';7 : @ | L WHAT ROLE DOES AGE PLAY IN LEADERSHIP? In a scenario where young people are demonstrating great leadership skills and leading big organisations, we seek to find out how the media, marketing and advertising industry is aligned to the young crop of leaders. How well do established veterans take to a young CEO at the helm, and how can young leaders navigate a rapidly changing ecosystem? BY CHRISTINA MONIZ ne of the key attributes that is typically associated with leadership is seniority and experience. Someone leading a large corporate firm or a huge business is expected to bring substantial experience and years of learning to the role. However, if you take a look today at the diverse set of leaders across sectors and companies, age seems to play a diminishing role. This was perhaps best demonstrated at this year's IMPACT 40 Under Forty Jury meet, where industry veterans pored over profiles and names of leaders who have achieved a tremendous amount of success and hit great milestones, all below 40 years of age! So what do these young guns bring to the table that allows them to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry greats? And more importantly, just how much of an impediment is age among co-workers who equate experience with leadership? Are people more likely to react differently to younger leaders than older ones? Do they take them seriously? LEADERSHIP IN A CHANGING WORLD Industry leaders across the board Ppelieve the time has now come to view leaders from outside the perimeter of age. Mahesh Shetty, Head Network Sales, Viacom18 points out that what really matters is knowledge and skill. "Everyone, including people like me, should be prepared to work with people who are far younger than them. The question we should ask in fact is what is the knowledge that person Younger leaders are more effective in a dynamic ecosystem Young leaders rule the roost in today's start-up and new-age business environment Relevant experience matters more than age or gender Calibre and skill sets are ultimately what matter in leadership Younger leaders usually have to work harder to prove themselves especially in more traditional organisations The world is getting more democratised and looks more for skill sets than age The ability to adapt is key both for young leaders and older professionals Leadership instincts are usually innate, and cannot be taught About 20% of leadership abilities come from one's own confidence and conviction While skill sets and talent matter, empathy and kindness are critical qualities for leaders Good mentors and organisations groom good leaders Leadership comes from everyday practice; seeds of leadership can in fact be sown even when during childhood Personality traits like charisma also go a long way in making good leaders RITUPARNA DASGUPTA Principal Partner, Strategy, Mindshare Fulcrum Leaders are made, according to me. You may not have those leadership qualities but they can always be developed. My belief is that leadership is a practice that you need to live every day. SUCHIT BANSAL Head of Business Personal Care, Marico Limited The world is getting democratized and is more open about skillsets rather than age. We are seeing a lot of young leaders today than before there are young leaders in their early 20's that are leading $20 billion organisations. This is a clear testament to the fact that age doesn't matter more than what you bring to the table. ANUSHREE TAINWALA Executive Director, Marketing, Samsonite South Asia Pvt. Ltd. I believe that leaders are made. It is the opportunities that you are given, the challenges thrown at you and the mentors that guide you that enable you to hone your leaderships skills. The team you work with also helps you make your leadership and your dreams a reality. ADITI SRIVASTAVA Co-founder, Pocket Aces I still think people react differently to younger leaders especially in this part of the world. Ours is an ageist culture, among other things. However if you know your stuff and if you show substance, then that opinion can change very quickly. FAYE D''SOUZA Former Executive Editor, Mirror Now Younger leaders can get people to work harder because they're also on the floor a lot. They can identify with their teams better because they are roughly in the same age group. However they also have to prove themselves that much more since older people in boardrooms tend to question your ability more if you are a younger leader. AKILA JAYARAMAN Senior Account Director, Essence India More than young or old, people are different and therefore, there are different kinds of leaders. So you just need to learn () to adapt to the Kinds of teams you are working with and managing. Both the team members and leaders have to adapt according to who they are working with. i o ke Ue MAE Nat, HUN: [nes hyYeyams L = Kumar, Joint Managing Director, DTA UDA Matheuubhumi o | Lis AL vt tO DAAC T JO i Tot e i AU ENO We PD. CPL Cot Hil! ln in : meskes Lem viet Chey are We SE [ee regen o svoryoday Ife cence OO Lr Diag We HoT un [lin ION peonls Bave a natural haAatisna FCO Ol |i a | AMC A Way with g eC. De Piet Chee Pe Poi Loaf ' 11 ee EHCOe ois ts ESD Co 1 Cd RH wwe Le wa i Tl Ls CHT LET Ul CCE mal He! Ay bt ol || o by 1T it HOD ArT EAT EOS LON wall an it Sl ppaor o AOL o T Leer TE CUCU? ON it oes Fear TO ie: CHOCO T pentorod 2 ndustey lect Dect Pre e perie ac Hey wach 1 on tHe Malu vorsun nortore dred; BORN THIS WAY? There ar FEA ALU, that are typically associated with leadership, such as confidence And vision, Peter Drucker, widely known is the father of Management, 15 AUOted ave said: "Leadership requires talent. This gift is rare. In he world of Management, the best managers are in himited numbers, and the leaders among them are WU TPG Cit Cri i | CH NC Cat LUISE LO CU ed P byocomye Oder BUS HOG SHEL CCIE SU bo he HUTS. Hie LAS, Ce cy HH Orca Al TE Ey Fe SPOS tenC! te [os CH Cntr: JOU ters wath Sroormna s a ontical aspect of thic leadership process lrrospostive of Tho person's innate talent, a ot Opec on te Opportunities avallable, the porson's cducation and thes grommng process. A Person may well have the propensily Lo lead an organisation But not the opportunity. Janardan Pandey, Founder-Director, Nett Value Media pvt Ltd 1s Of He clea KRANTI GADA COO, Shemaroo Entertainment Limited It takes a little longer for younger leaders to establish trust as compared with older established leaders. Onge:the trust is achieved, then it is not difficult for a younger leader at all. So if | were to mak a comparison between older and younger leaders, the initial part of pbuilding trust is where the difference lies. VIKRAM PANDEY National Creative Director, Leo Burnett "~ The most important thing when you are a leader is your team if you have a great team, they make you a great leader. And if you have clients who are willing to support you and put their faith in you, that is all one could ever ask for as a leader. SANDEEP ANAND CMO, Zomato There are only a few lucky people who can say leadership is a quality they were born with. It's something which you have to consciously work towards and inculcate in yourself. One of the key things you must do as a leader is develop empathy and understand how other people feel. You shouldn't put your team through something that doesn't seem right to you, or something that you wouldn't do yourself. OFINION that one's purposce and ambi DIC KO tO LHe [ctr Ip SUC story, U do believe that whiat wee Lo, hiowy v =Baps our Lhought proooss, Bowe b T We are towardcs our purpose and goals i hife all ol theat goes along way i LHe leadership Process. Hs Aothiundg to Co with where you arc borin and how you are Dorr, be ctales, adding that history 15 a Clear testimaony of this TALENT VERSUS GROOMING WHilis Met veterans Agree that successtul leaders, Hove oo a bhalonce botween natural talent and root, He More Popular opiuon Is that 1 order te, succeed, one must have that keen leadorship mstinet, Basant Dhawan, CEO, English & Business News Cluster, Networkl18 ohoorves, "Loeadorship r a balance of both crooning and natural talent Of course, tere 1w o greal cloal of hard work that goes into bocoming a good leader and vou must go through the struggles that come aloneg Lie way, But if you have (+ Facer hip mstinet, thats Ue ICH ON HHO CAKE" Fclucation, ability, opportunity and trammeg camibsine Lo make effective leaders, which moeans that everythineg docsn't always come from birth. Fxplaining why he Delieves JRaders are made and not born, Sharad Puri, General Manager, JW Marriott, Juhu Says, "| An firm Deliever of the theory thal Jeaders are made, and believe very lttle in the theory that leaders are born, Ome of (he great leadoers that | have worked with possess a high FQ and also what | call PQ, Passion Quotient, Of course, talent is also really important, Put Poth EQ and PE are two important qualities In leaders" Puri acds that Another Key factor is the environment leaders create for themselves and for others. Finpathy and Kindness Can go o long way in making leaders great and effective, he notes, brings to the table? We are moving to a world which is connected and rapidly changing. And at times, it is people who are far younger who have better perspective of what is going to work in the coming years versus a person who has been there for a very long time. So 1 don't think there is any problem in a younger person leading a bunch of people who are far older because the skills and the stuff that they bring to the table is very different," Shetty says. A changing world, with Digital at its centre, makes new skills and fresh perspectives important. While there is no set formula to leadership, a person's calibre is really what matters. However, that transition towards a younger leadership base is not going to be the smoothest, especially since it requires a bit of unlearning on the part of the more experienced lot. Suresh Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer, The Hindu Group draws from his experience at the IMPACT 40 Under Forty jury meet to note that experience is not everything, particularly in the media, marketing and advertising domain. "I used to believe that age matters. But 1 have had to revisit my values and beliefs over the past 10-15 years as I see this industry evolve. There are so many bright young stars coming up and taking on leadership roles without what seems like too much of an effort. That has completely changed the way I thought about how leadership comes with experience. While experience is good to have, I understand now that it isn't everything! Mavbhe 15 vears ago, age would have mattered. Today, especially in our industry, LF think it doesn't as voung people and young leaders lead from the front," states Balakrishna. WHY EXPERIENCE TRUMPS AGE While age mav still not be the biggest factor in leadership, industry leaders are in agreement that experience is important. Age doesn't necessarily guarantee relevant experience, which is what makes a strong leader, says Rana Barua, CEO, Havas Group India. "Without experience, it's impossible to be a strong leader. But, you can't put a definition to age to say that you have to be a certain age in order to be a leader. Even the Indian cricket team has seen such young leaders," Barua points out. The very fact that CEOs of large organisations and startups today are so young and often well under 40 years of age, proves that the age factor can rarely affect a person's ability to lead an organisation. For instance, Megha Tata, Managing Director S Asia, Discovery Communications says that leadership qualities are sometimes even ingrained in young children. "Age is a number. Even young schoolgoing children display leadership skills. How you leverage your opportunities and the environment you're in also plays an important role. The environment always adds to the leader's potential to shine," she explains. Tata adds that things are looking up for the media and advertising industry with so many CEOs and business heads in their 20's and 30's. "The industry is in good hands with such amazing talent. Iam certain that this talent will take the industry to greater heights," Tata states. But is the industry really willing to accept a younger leader, and will we see veterans with decades of experience adapt to a younger CEO at the top? Uday Sodhi, Former Business Head Digital, Sony Pictures Networks India, believes that will not be an issue. "I don't believe that people will be unwilling to work with a leader who is young. In today's day and age, people will follow and work with leaders who have a vision for the company. All that matters is the calibre of the leader and what they bring to the table. The industry looks up to leaders who will give them direction, and a clear path," explains Sodhi, adding that age is inconsequential when it comes to leadership. 'a FEEDBACK christina.moniz a