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The Carlos Santana Model of Leadership – Voters Take Note

February 20, 2016


As usual, I’m writing about leadership communication – NOT policy or politics!

This morning’s news report asked if the three leading presidential candidates were too old to lead.  My resounding answer was NO!  I was quickly reminded of three things:

  1. One of my connections and favorite writers, Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking, is a leading expert on generations in the workplace. In his excellent books and articles he has often mentioned that older, experienced workers bring “context” to the workplace.  These workers have a sense of history, trends and cycles in the world and workplace that younger workers may not have learned about or be aware of.  So, simply put, senior workers can put things in context for younger workers.  I’m sure that any of these senior candidates could do the same with highly skilled, talented, gifted, ambitious, intelligent and committed staffers in their respective White House(s).
  2. I’m personally thrilled that Americans of all ages are looking to three older candidates as a choice for the presidency.   Apart from politics, and even as a conservative, I’m glad from this perspective that, in this order, Sanders at 75, Trump at 70 and Clinton at 69 are being considered as a national leader At Their Age(s).   It’s true that Bush and Kasich in their mid-60s or Rubio and Cruz in their mid-forties could end up as the candidate.  But, as of today, the seniors rule! 
  3.  Enter Santana. While listening to my Santana collection during a lengthy road trip yesterday, I enjoyed songs from his first album, Santana, released in 1969 to the last recording I bought, Guitar Heaven from 2010.  What amazed me most, was how the big “comeback” hits from 1999 to 2002 were recorded in collaboration with younger artist like Rob Thomas on the gigantic hit “Smooth” from 1999’s Supernatural and Michelle Branch on “The Game of Love” from 2002’s Shaman release.  He’s now 68, but even when he was 52 years of age in 1999 one could’ve considered Santana at the older, or definitely experienced, end of the age spectrum for rock musicians. The point, of course, is that someone who is older, wiser and more experienced can provide a great foundation and framework from which to build something great with younger participants.

I don’t know where things will stand at the end of the South Carolina primaries, but I wanted to take a moment –  in the moment –  to respond to this morning’s question with a definitive NO.  These people are NOT TOO OLD to lead IF they leverage their experience by surrounding themselves with good people both young and old.

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