Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Timing and Leadership

At yesterday’s meeting, we ended up being a group of two. I was expecting a few more but understand how circumstances can sometimes foil the best of intentions. I wasn’t disappointed though and thoroughly enjoyed our one to one conversation. As typically happens at these meetings, our conversation strayed bit from the topic at hand. We talked about our families, the twists and turns our career paths had taken, our interests outside of work. We eventually did wind our way back to the planned topic of Leadership.

My companion shared with me that early in her career her priority was on her family. So, at that point in time she wasn’t interested in taking on the additional responsibilities that a leadership role would require. Now that her children are grown, she wonders if she’d be considered a viable candidate for a leadership role.

Our conversation reminded me of a discussion I had with a friend of mine who’s in HR. He said that in his company, that if you weren’t identified as a candidate for a leadership position before you were 40, then it was unlikely that you’d be moving very far up the career ladder. The way this company viewed it, they didn’t want it invest in someone with a limited number of years left in her career.

This seemed somewhat short sighted to me. (Speaking from the biased view of someone on the other side of 40.) But it does raise an interesting question. What impact does timing have with regard to moving into a leadership role? Is making your mark early in your career essential to future success? I’d be interested in your thoughts and opinions.


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