This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 31, 2002

Retired Executives Returning to Work

Since we wrote our Herman Trend Alert of May 29, 2002 on the dearth of leadership, we have received some interesting responses. A number of our subscribers reported retired executives returning to work. There are several reasons for this movement: the retired executives are bored and want something to do, current leaders need help coping with the barrage of challenges they face, and business is picking up to the extent that more leadership is needed.

Our research suggests two separate trends. First is a trend toward hiring what we'll call "Executives Without Portfolio," senior leaders without specific job descriptions or production assignments. They serve as strategic-level counselors, advisors, and watchdogs. These experienced leaders can be another set of eyes, ears, and ethics on behalf of top executives or corporate boards of directors. In some cases, they will engage in serious mentoring and coaching, helping leaders of today and tomorrow manage situations that they have not faced quite the same way before.

Corporations expect these returning seasoned professionals to work their magic again. These retired executives know the culture; in many cases they helped create it. They know the people; they have relationships with the key players and know how to get things done.

Some experienced executives, managers, and professionals work with employers they have not served before . . . sometimes in entirely different fields. The companies need their skills, perspective, and wisdom even more than their technical expertise in a particular industry. These senior counselors are engaged-as full-time employees, contractors, or consultants.

The second trend involves older people coming back into the workforce after a short-or even longer-retirement. They're eager to be active, to contribute, to make a difference. People over 55 belong to a generational group that emphasizes productivity as a core value.

Many of these older workers-executives, managers, and employees of all sorts, will choose to remain in the workforce. Some will continue to work full-time if their employers let them; others will prefer part-time or contract work. The retirement age is being pushed back as people live longer.

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