Frequently, a person’s ability to lead and succeed is judged by their age or another physical attribute. However, ambition, ideation, drive, intelligence, and determination can’t be measured by physical attributes. History abounds with examples of those who defied traditional standards at a young age, but were eminently successful. Ancient Egypt’s King Tutankhamen is arguably the most famous of those, ascending the throne when he was just 9 years old and ruling until his death at age 19. Another impressive example is, Queen Elizabeth I who ascended the throne when she was 25 years old, young by today’s standards, and ruled successfully for 45 years.
Conversely, some didn’t achieve success and fame until they were in their later years. Grandma Moses began painting when she was 78 and continued until she was 100, and she’s one of America’s most celebrated folk artists. Colonel Harlan Sanders was 65 when he began Kentucky Fried Chicken and forever changed the fast-food industry.
Youth has the advantage of energy and dreams, maturity has the advantage of wisdom and experience, but neither precludes the hard work and determination it takes to be a successful leader. Often, motivation plays a greater role in leadership effectiveness than does age. Older leaders who want to be remembered for their legacy are often very effective leaders while those who have no interest in their legacy are less effective. Younger leaders who use motivational techniques that will advance their career tend to be more effective leaders than those who were less interested in the career paths of their subordinates. Since lifespans are longer now than at any time in history, those who are now in their later years are usually in better physical and mental health than they were in the past, and they’re better able to be effective leaders. Young people have more knowledge and technology available than at any time in history, and since they are usually open to new ideas, there’s been a proliferation of very young but very effective leaders.
Ultimately, those who are the most effective and the most successful leaders are those who are the most driven and have the most desire to lead and succeed, regardless of their age brackets. Leadership is more passion-driven than age-driven. If a leader is passionate about their field, it will inspire others to become passionate about it. So those who inspire others to achieve more and dream more are exhibiting the qualities of a superior leader, whether they’re 16 or 60.
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