There was a story in News Ltd papers yesterday regarding how “job-hogging boomers don’t know when to quit” and how this potentially has adverse consequences for the businesses they work in and the next generation of employees. While it’s certainly true that people aged 55 and over today have higher workforce participation rates than people the same age a decade earlier (see chart below), I doubt this is a huge cause for concern.
I’m sure many older workers are aware of the need to mentor younger staff and to progressively hand over responsibilities. Also, if younger workers feel they are held back because there are older people in senior positions blocking them from advancing, then they should leave that organisation and find one where merit and talent are rewarded.
Increasingly, leadership doesn’t depend on positions, but on individuals themselves, and you can organise people and achieve a lot without technically being in charge. It’s a new world of work out there, and the people who succeed are those people who make themselves indispensable – those people who make themselves linchpins, as Seth Godin calls them. (If you haven’t read Linchpin, you should; it’s brilliant.) Gen Xers and Gen Yers should focus on becoming indispensable, rather than worrying about who occupies the corner office.