Shooting myself in the foot

I have a big birthday coming up and it’s not my 50th.  Well and truly a Baby Boomer, the world @work in 2020 is not going to feature me because the immediate future lies with Gen X. I’ve got five Gen Xers leading our individual business units and they run rings around me. But that’s not my dilemma.

My dilemma is the dilemma of clients voiced weekly. ‘We need a changing of the guard, we want the next generation to lead the organisation in complex times. We don’t want to discriminate on age but ideally our future leader is younger not older’.

Where are you Gen X? We know from researching CEO appointments going back decades that the most common age bracket for appointed CEOs is 38 – 48 years of age. Ten years ago, these were today’s Baby Boomers. But today this bracket of senior leaders is missing in action and Slade Group is finding it much harder to identify more than one or two Gen Xers in any CEO shortlist.

I’m waiting to hear the Gen X Ambulance riding through the streets crowded with Baby Boomer leaders, sirens wailing ‘stand aside, stand aside and at least offer me the opportunity to take a single point of responsibility and accountability for one major piece of the organisation so that I’m CEO-ready when the call comes’.

Geoff Slade

Geoff Slade has worked at the forefront of the Recruitment industry for over 50 years. He is the Executive Chairman of Slade Group and was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to the industry.

Geoff Slade
Executive Chairman
Slade Group
Level 10, 333 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100

Posted in The world @work
3 comments on “Shooting myself in the foot
  1. Bill Ellerton says:


    Just because you are turning 60 and based on your own comments apparently worn out doesn’t mean everyone of that age is. I am a couple of years older than that and I am definitely not worn out. In fact I am looking for my next major challenge in my working life. Hopefully leading a large organisation where I can use my experience to add significant value to my employer, customers and those who work with and for me.

    Other than from some teenagers on Facebook I can’t recall every hearing such an Ageist diatribe. Whilst it is clear that younger people are ultimately the future, that doesn’t mean that mature aged people do not have a lot to offer in leadership roles. Ageism is in fact just as bad as racism, sexism, or any other form of bigotry.

    Age should never, ever be a consideration in the workplace in terms of the appointment of people to positions or any other matter. No more than should be colour, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, political persuasion etc. What really matters is a persons ability to do the job and deliver results.

    If you feel you are no longer able to do the job and deliver results for whatever reason, then for heavens sake step aside and let someone who can, regardless of their age, do so. If you are not prepared to do so, then please cut the discriminatory and bigoted commentary.



    • Geoff Slade Geoff Slade says:

      Hi Bill

      It’s always good to have some strong points of view come back on our blog and I was interested to have your feedback. I wasn’t for a minute suggesting that the Over 60s aren’t on their game or capable of great things, I was simply reflecting the demographic and market shift challenges we’re experiencing – and using myself as a case in point. There are no longer compulsory retirement ages, our generation has to keep working to top up Superannuation and because we’re stimulated by work more of us are staying on top of work and loving it.

      The challenge we’re seeing is that there’s a Missing In Action squeeze between the Baby Boomers and the Gen Ys. Of course it’s a broad sweeping statement, but it was forecast by the demographers nearly a decade ago. These are bright capable and experienced professionals who aren’t getting a crack at the Top Spot simply because ‘we’ the Baby Boomers won’t let go of what we love doing. Moreover, we are getting a lot of input from clients who want the Xers in the top spots now – they see them as the future. I’m just the messenger here. No Bill, we’re not redundant but the market is seeking fresh leadership.

      I’m delighted that you think I’m about to be 60 – but in 2020 I’ll be 75, and I’m sure if I haven’t handed over the reigns by then, they’ll shoot me!

      Thanks again for the conversation.

      Best wishes

      PS. By the way, if you think I can be of any help to you, I would be happy to have a chat.

  2. Bill Macartney says:

    There is a big opportunity for a new style of senior management structure that is a catalyst for unprecedented performance. It all lies in structuring a partnership between the experience and wisdom of “Boomers” with the boundless energy of Gen Ys. Being a Bonza Boomer I can notice daily many occasions when my experience comes into play. Having once been a younger man with a yen to make things happen, I can relate to that 30s and 40s energy and ambition. Your job, should you choose to take it, is to work out how the twain shall meet.


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