Is there an age related ethical and moral dilemma facing the management profession? Are younger management professionals, who are starting their careers, failing to act in a more holistic way due to the compounded pressure from work, and the inevitability that if they do not tow the company line they will lose their job? Are issues such as responsibility to family, money constraints and confidence affecting how younger managers undertake their duties? Consider managers you have known during your career, which ones where more likely to say no, or disagree with the company line in respect of policy decisions? Was it, generally speaking, younger or older managers?
A CMI report, Managers & Their Moral DNA, which used the MorialDNA psychometric test to assess managers on a range of traits, and was based on 80,000 profiles of people from over 200 countries, found that as we get older, we are more able to think and act for ourselves, as opposed to always following the company line. 27% of veteran managers are less compliant by the time they reach 50, as compared to their late twenties, and by this point are also more rational as well. Whilst the data seems to point to the fact that older managers are more comfortable thinking for themselves, and are able to use rational thought to break rules to improve performance, must younger managers wait until they are firmly established in their careers to do this?
The danger for all professional managers lies in blindly following instruction and policy. The suggestion that older managers are more able to break the rules, as and when appropriate to lead, suggests there is a need for managers who are able to look beyond the policies and procedures and examine the holistic picture not only from a company perspective, but also that of economic, marketing and other business factors, instead of looking at varying aspects in isolation and without consideration of cause and effect.
The point is that the professional manager is more than the sum of company policies and procedures; they have an obligation to lead, be effective, and own their behaviour. This is not limited to older managers, if there are inherent problems with specific company doctrine, all managers, whatever their age, have a moral obligation to interject and put forward a case for change.
As a point of interest, the report also found that there were differences between the sexes. Female leaders were 5% more caring than their male counterparts, but had 10% less self-control and 6% less wisdom. Demonstrating there are ethical differences between male and female managers. The report also found that managers, overall, were 4% more compliant and 5% less caring at work than at home.