Getting Older In Leadership

I heard this bit of information the other day while on the SAGE conference (webinar) produced by the LEADERSHIP NETWORK (5/19/10) and I thought it was an interesting topic to explore about LEADERSHIP.

I don't even remember which speaker spoke about this but he was talking about the fact (undeniable) that leadership ages year after year.  As we all know situations around us are changing with the times (economic, political, social, religious, values, etc) and that each year leadership faces the challenge of staying "up with the times" or "relevant" as the new buzz word says.

The speaker talked about leaders who tried to keep the same "persona" that they had while they were young and that as they aged they couldn't see themselves any other way.  It almost becomes a farce to see these leaders who are stuck in the past and can't adapt.

But as sad as it is to see those stuck is to see those who try to be something they are not in order to be relevant.

He then referred to The William Shatner Effect (nod to SAGE conference on 5/19/10). We all know William Shatner (if not for STAR TREK then this generation will certainly know him from his PRICELINE ads).  Shatner has been a star on the scene since the late 50's and he's a person who has learned to adapt.

The speaker talked about two things that have made Shatner a player in today's game.

1.Shatner let go of who he was.  He's no longer Captain Kirk.  He's given that role off to another generation and he's taken on roles that almost are the opposite of Kirk with his zany lawyer role on a recent sitcom.  This, the speaker said, was Shatner's genius in that he no longer took himself so seriously and gripped to his past accomplishments in order to feel relevant.  Shatner's adaptability is something to emulate for leaders who are growing older.  Don't hold on to who you were--but hold on to who you are and let that be expressed in current terms, within the scope of your situation.

That's true for me as a worship leader.  I can not rock the look of a "castro hat, white belt, tight jeans and Abercrombie shirt" worship leader.  It would be almost comical for me to pull that off as "the new me".  However, I can be aware of culture and how certain things that are essentially me can be expressed in "current" terms.  I must be about that in order to stay up in leadership.

2. Shatner has matured not turned old.  Shatner has allowed his character(s) to express who he is right now.  His roles and visibility are the essence of who he is right now, not the gold shirt wearing Captain of the Enterprise.   He is "relevant" because of his presence in the "now" and not the "back then " (man, that's a lot of quotations in this post!")

A leader must define his current reality and let his skills and sets be expressed within that realm.  In that regard it is difficult to stay up with all of the changes in technology and things--but if you want to stay a leader you must stay sharp.  Knowledge is never ending and I'm surprised at leaders who just stop growing.  I hope I never get that way.

So, what do you think of the William Shatner Effect in leadership?

This might lead to a whole set of posts on TV CHARACTER LEADERSHIP (aka...The Andy Griffith Effect, The Jethro Bodine Effect.. )