Summary of Older and Wiser?

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Despite the question mark in its title, this report on age-related differences from the MIT Sloan Management Review asserts the value of experience. “It takes many jobs working as a manager,” the authors explain, “to learn more intuitive techniques that are based on experience and judgment.” Further, the authors aver that experienced, intuitive professionals will become increasingly valuable amid growing automation. Learn some of the prominent differences between younger and older managers in this informative report. 

About the Authors

Julian Birkinshaw is a professor at the London Business School. James Manktelow founded online training firm Mind Tools. Vittorio D’Amato heads the international MBA program at Italy’s Università Cattaneo, where adjunct professors Elena Tosca and Francesca Macchi teach.



An age-diverse workforce can be a valuable asset if firms understand and manage age-related differences well.

Workplaces today are increasingly age-diverse, with big companies often employing individuals across five generations. This represents both a boon and a challenge. What people want and expect from the workplace can vary from one generation to the next, and engagement among co-workers from different generations can become prickly – especially amid unchecked prejudice and stereotyping. Thus, companies must know how to manage age diversity well, and that begins with understanding how different generations tend to approach work and how they manage others. Further, you must nurture a “shared perspective” on your teams. A survey of 10,000-plus managers ages 21 to 70 in various industries showed that age was the factor that most influenced management style. “Fads,” such as the recent popularity of business model thinking, may influence some age-related differences, but most result from differences among generations.

Younger managers tend to be self-oriented and to rely on specific techniques and programs ...

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