7 Dec Put young people in charge – you’ll never guess what happens.

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Things get better, and here’s why.

My children are smarter than me. Your children are probably smarter than you are too. It’s called the Flynn Effect after Dr James Flynn whose work has demonstrated that we get four IQ points smarter every decade.

It means that if the CEO of your company is 52 years of age a fresh graduate 30 years his or her junior may well be 12 IQ points smarter. That’s a significant and discernable difference.

So who should really be in charge?
baby boss
Yes, there’s the value of experience, pressure tested decision-making prowess, decades worth of network building and levels of emotional intelligence that only come with practice and persistence to factor in to the equation. And what about the life lessons metered out through trial and error, or forged in the furnace of failure?

Good points for sure, and these qualities are definitely worth a great deal in leadership teams. But do they qualify the seasoned campaigners to be calling the shots in the business milieu of now?

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many clever and inspiring young people lately that I’ve developed a deep admiration for their perspectives. Intelligence aside, they’re just not buying the same simplistic growth and profit imperatives that were drilled into my generation. They’re more aware of the limits of the system, more conscious that their choices have consequences and are more self-aware.

“There is a significant and global trend amongst all people, but particularly the youth, towards happiness, purpose and meaning being as or more important than financial success”, concluded the recent CBRE global think tank.

But can you really retrofit happiness, purpose and meaning into established corporate regimes built on mantras of growth?

Try as they might, the old guard aren’t going to get there on their own because they’re just not as deeply committed to navigating to the future this way. And because they’re not smart enough to change the plane while they’re flying.

You need to be wholehearted believers in openness, inclusivity and collaboration to pull off that stunt. In which case my advice is to open up, include and collaborate with a team of the bravest and brightest people you can find, even if they are decades younger than you are.

A version of this post will appear in the January 2015 edition of Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Image via Lurkerz blog.

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