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当领导也有最佳年龄一说?

哪个年龄段的人最适合做领导?

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关于即将到来的美国总统大选,人们大多讨论的还是年龄问题:唐纳德·特朗普78岁,乔·拜登81岁。

人们不禁要问:做总统的最佳年龄是多少,亦或对于担任任何高风险领导而言,哪个年龄最合适?

哥伦比亚大学梅尔曼公共健康学院(Columbia University Mailman School)教授约翰·罗威博士对《财富》杂志说,多年来,很多学者对这个问题进行了深入研究。

尽管如此,找到具体的年龄段并非易事。

“首先,认知功能和行为功能包括一系列不同的具体功能,例如语言流畅度,短期与长期记忆,问题解决能力、速度……而且年龄的增长对上述各种功能的影响也都存在一定的差异,” 他说,“因此并非所有功能都会以同样的速度出现退化现象。”

斯坦福大学医学院(Stanford University School of Medicine)遗传学系主席迈克·施耐德博士认为,认知功能的下降存在很大的变数,而且因人而异。

他对《财富》杂志说:“很多人到很大岁数之后才会出现这种现象。相信大家都有所耳闻,有些人在90多岁依然超级聪敏,而有些在60多岁便出现了严重的认知退化。”

罗威还表示,从认知层面来讲,“40多岁的人几乎都处于同一水平,但到了80岁之后,有些人的状态依然非常好,但有些人却并不理想。”

65岁之后认知功能的退化将加速

他表示,随着年龄的增长,认知功能出现“非正常”退化的概率将越来越大,有的会患上痴呆症,有的则是出现轻度认知障碍。

大多数痴呆症患者的年龄都在65岁以上,而且美国疾控中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)预计,到2060年,老年痴呆症确诊患者数量将达到近1400万。罗威表示:“很明显,痴呆症患者是无法领导国家的,因此,这些人就不用考虑了。”

然而,对那些患有轻度认知障碍的人(65岁以上人群患病比例12-18%,会出现健忘和错放物品等行为)来说,事情或将变得“更加有趣”。

他说,在那些随着年龄增长而出现退化的认知功能中,研究起来最方便的便是认知信息处理速度。不过,尽管实验室测试可能显示存在功能障碍,但通常仅比年轻组慢10毫秒,因此其影响可能并不大。

例如,人们在制定国际财务决策时可能需要10毫秒以上的反应时间。他表示:“因此,某些变化对认知功能来说可能并不重要。”

施耐德强调,与数十年前相比,人们的寿命更长,而且更健康,因此他们的退休时间也更晚。《神经学》(Neurology)期刊发布的新研究显示,如果人们在30-60岁期间从事过刺激认知功能的工作,他们在70岁以上时患轻度认知障碍和痴呆症的风险会更低。

此外,智慧随着年龄而来——事实上,这可能仅仅是年龄增长给领导者带来的其中一个好处。

美国总统任职年龄下限为35岁,也是通常的认知“峰值”年龄

一些研究显示,人们在35岁会达到其认知“峰值”,而这个岁数也是美国总统的任职年龄下限。拉什大学(Rush University)精神病和行为科学教授帕特丽夏·博伊尔博士称,这一峰值会持续至45岁左右,届时,年龄对认知的影响可能会开始显现。博伊尔博士还是拉什老年痴呆症中心神经心理学家。

她表示:“当然,由于认知健康会受到基因、饮食、锻炼、血压、人际关系以及个人思维活跃与否的影响,因此每个人的经历各不相同。”

不过,年龄增长也有好处。罗威表示,一些与智力有关的能力,例如词汇量,会随着年龄的增长而增加。不过,好处还不止这些。他还表示,多项研究一再显示,年纪较大的人情绪更稳定。

不能忽视年龄和经历带来的智慧

罗威提到了伊戈·格罗斯曼博士2010年在密西根大学(University of Michigan)时开展的两项调查。格罗斯曼博士现任加拿大滑铁卢大学(University of Waterloo)智慧与文化实验室主任。该研究发现,65-80岁的人群在有关领导力的以下几个方面表现异常优秀:

• 多视角看待问题

• 可做出让步

• 意识到现有可用知识的局限性

• 解决冲突

该研究写到:“尽管流体智力会随着年龄的增长下降,但社会推理能力会随着年龄的增长而增长。这一结论显示,让年长人士担任涉及法律决策、咨询和团体间协商的重要社会职务,或许是一种明智之举。”

罗威还提到了2020年斯坦福大学心理学教授、斯坦福长寿中心主任劳拉·卡斯坦森博士的一份报告。她在调查了1000名年龄18-76岁的人后发现,在疫情初期,年长人士的韧性要高于年轻人。

卡斯坦森代表斯坦福接受有关该调查的采访时解释说,年长人士更有可能显现出沉着、感兴趣和欣赏的态度,他们出现焦虑等负面情绪的可能性更低。他将这一现象归结于经历和观点的转变。

卡斯坦森表示:“人们大多认为年长人士十分脆弱和无助,但年长人群之间的差异是巨大的,而且比年轻人严重。一些年长人士体弱多病。然而,作为一个整体,年长人士的韧性异常强大,而且实际上在情绪健康方面比年轻人更好。”

《老龄不老》(Ageless Aging)一书的作者麦迪·戴奇沃德四十年来一直是衰老和长寿领域的思想领袖。他表示,这一点是年龄增长的馈赠,人们不能忽视。

她解释说,如果你对生活更乐观,而且感到更幸福,“你会将这一观点融入你的团队管理当中。”

罗威表示,他自己认为,如果年长人士在认知方面没有问题,那么他们的情绪就会更稳定,解决问题的能力更强,而且沟通能力也更好。

不过,他也承认,他不会任命一位95岁的高龄人士担任美国总统,因为年龄越大,出现严重健康问题的可能性就越高。

因此,他是否会将年长人士彻底排除在外?

罗威认为这是不公平的,因为存在很多显而易见的个例。此外他还表示,不同的机构在不同时期有着不同的领导力需求。他重点提到了温斯顿·丘吉尔,后者在66岁当选英国首相。

戴奇沃德提到了很多年长领袖的好案例,包括沃伦·巴菲特、弗朗西斯教皇和75岁就任的纳尔逊·曼德拉。她说:“我觉得他们是越老越有智慧,而且可以成熟地根据自身阅历做出决策。”

对于当前有关总统和年龄的对话,她认为人们应该将眼光放得长远些。她提到其书作审视了三个方面的衰老,即身体、心理,当然还有时间。

她说:“这才是人们如今关注的真正焦点。我74岁了,但我并不认为自己受到了年龄的限制。毫不夸张地说,我感觉自己正处于人生的巅峰期。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

关于即将到来的美国总统大选,人们大多讨论的还是年龄问题:唐纳德·特朗普78岁,乔·拜登81岁。

人们不禁要问:做总统的最佳年龄是多少,亦或对于担任任何高风险领导而言,哪个年龄最合适?

哥伦比亚大学梅尔曼公共健康学院(Columbia University Mailman School)教授约翰·罗威博士对《财富》杂志说,多年来,很多学者对这个问题进行了深入研究。

尽管如此,找到具体的年龄段并非易事。

“首先,认知功能和行为功能包括一系列不同的具体功能,例如语言流畅度,短期与长期记忆,问题解决能力、速度……而且年龄的增长对上述各种功能的影响也都存在一定的差异,” 他说,“因此并非所有功能都会以同样的速度出现退化现象。”

斯坦福大学医学院(Stanford University School of Medicine)遗传学系主席迈克·施耐德博士认为,认知功能的下降存在很大的变数,而且因人而异。

他对《财富》杂志说:“很多人到很大岁数之后才会出现这种现象。相信大家都有所耳闻,有些人在90多岁依然超级聪敏,而有些在60多岁便出现了严重的认知退化。”

罗威还表示,从认知层面来讲,“40多岁的人几乎都处于同一水平,但到了80岁之后,有些人的状态依然非常好,但有些人却并不理想。”

65岁之后认知功能的退化将加速

他表示,随着年龄的增长,认知功能出现“非正常”退化的概率将越来越大,有的会患上痴呆症,有的则是出现轻度认知障碍。

大多数痴呆症患者的年龄都在65岁以上,而且美国疾控中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)预计,到2060年,老年痴呆症确诊患者数量将达到近1400万。罗威表示:“很明显,痴呆症患者是无法领导国家的,因此,这些人就不用考虑了。”

然而,对那些患有轻度认知障碍的人(65岁以上人群患病比例12-18%,会出现健忘和错放物品等行为)来说,事情或将变得“更加有趣”。

他说,在那些随着年龄增长而出现退化的认知功能中,研究起来最方便的便是认知信息处理速度。不过,尽管实验室测试可能显示存在功能障碍,但通常仅比年轻组慢10毫秒,因此其影响可能并不大。

例如,人们在制定国际财务决策时可能需要10毫秒以上的反应时间。他表示:“因此,某些变化对认知功能来说可能并不重要。”

施耐德强调,与数十年前相比,人们的寿命更长,而且更健康,因此他们的退休时间也更晚。《神经学》(Neurology)期刊发布的新研究显示,如果人们在30-60岁期间从事过刺激认知功能的工作,他们在70岁以上时患轻度认知障碍和痴呆症的风险会更低。

此外,智慧随着年龄而来——事实上,这可能仅仅是年龄增长给领导者带来的其中一个好处。

美国总统任职年龄下限为35岁,也是通常的认知“峰值”年龄

一些研究显示,人们在35岁会达到其认知“峰值”,而这个岁数也是美国总统的任职年龄下限。拉什大学(Rush University)精神病和行为科学教授帕特丽夏·博伊尔博士称,这一峰值会持续至45岁左右,届时,年龄对认知的影响可能会开始显现。博伊尔博士还是拉什老年痴呆症中心神经心理学家。

她表示:“当然,由于认知健康会受到基因、饮食、锻炼、血压、人际关系以及个人思维活跃与否的影响,因此每个人的经历各不相同。”

不过,年龄增长也有好处。罗威表示,一些与智力有关的能力,例如词汇量,会随着年龄的增长而增加。不过,好处还不止这些。他还表示,多项研究一再显示,年纪较大的人情绪更稳定。

不能忽视年龄和经历带来的智慧

罗威提到了伊戈·格罗斯曼博士2010年在密西根大学(University of Michigan)时开展的两项调查。格罗斯曼博士现任加拿大滑铁卢大学(University of Waterloo)智慧与文化实验室主任。该研究发现,65-80岁的人群在有关领导力的以下几个方面表现异常优秀:

• 多视角看待问题

• 可做出让步

• 意识到现有可用知识的局限性

• 解决冲突

该研究写到:“尽管流体智力会随着年龄的增长下降,但社会推理能力会随着年龄的增长而增长。这一结论显示,让年长人士担任涉及法律决策、咨询和团体间协商的重要社会职务,或许是一种明智之举。”

罗威还提到了2020年斯坦福大学心理学教授、斯坦福长寿中心主任劳拉·卡斯坦森博士的一份报告。她在调查了1000名年龄18-76岁的人后发现,在疫情初期,年长人士的韧性要高于年轻人。

卡斯坦森代表斯坦福接受有关该调查的采访时解释说,年长人士更有可能显现出沉着、感兴趣和欣赏的态度,他们出现焦虑等负面情绪的可能性更低。他将这一现象归结于经历和观点的转变。

卡斯坦森表示:“人们大多认为年长人士十分脆弱和无助,但年长人群之间的差异是巨大的,而且比年轻人严重。一些年长人士体弱多病。然而,作为一个整体,年长人士的韧性异常强大,而且实际上在情绪健康方面比年轻人更好。”

《老龄不老》(Ageless Aging)一书的作者麦迪·戴奇沃德四十年来一直是衰老和长寿领域的思想领袖。他表示,这一点是年龄增长的馈赠,人们不能忽视。

她解释说,如果你对生活更乐观,而且感到更幸福,“你会将这一观点融入你的团队管理当中。”

罗威表示,他自己认为,如果年长人士在认知方面没有问题,那么他们的情绪就会更稳定,解决问题的能力更强,而且沟通能力也更好。

不过,他也承认,他不会任命一位95岁的高龄人士担任美国总统,因为年龄越大,出现严重健康问题的可能性就越高。

因此,他是否会将年长人士彻底排除在外?

罗威认为这是不公平的,因为存在很多显而易见的个例。此外他还表示,不同的机构在不同时期有着不同的领导力需求。他重点提到了温斯顿·丘吉尔,后者在66岁当选英国首相。

戴奇沃德提到了很多年长领袖的好案例,包括沃伦·巴菲特、弗朗西斯教皇和75岁就任的纳尔逊·曼德拉。她说:“我觉得他们是越老越有智慧,而且可以成熟地根据自身阅历做出决策。”

对于当前有关总统和年龄的对话,她认为人们应该将眼光放得长远些。她提到其书作审视了三个方面的衰老,即身体、心理,当然还有时间。

她说:“这才是人们如今关注的真正焦点。我74岁了,但我并不认为自己受到了年龄的限制。毫不夸张地说,我感觉自己正处于人生的巅峰期。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Much of the discussion on the upcoming U.S. presidential election revolves around issues of age: Donald Trump is 78 and Joe Biden is 81.

That begs a question: Just what is the perfect age to be president—or any high-stakes leader, for that matter?

That’s a question that has been well-studied by many scholars over the years, Dr. John Rowe, a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health professor of health policy and aging, tells Fortune.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to pinpoint an ideal number.

“First, cognitive function and behavioral functions include a variety of different specific functions, such as fluency, short-term and long-term memory, problem solving, speed … and there’s a fair amount of variability in the effects of aging on these different functions,” he says. “So it’s not a monotonic everything-gets-worse-at-the-same-rate.”

Michael Snyder, PhD, chair of the genetics department at the Stanford University School of Medicine, agrees that cognitive decline is highly variable and specific to each individual.

“That can go pretty late for a lot of people,” he tells Fortune. “We all know people in their 90s who are still super, super sharp. And, likewise, we know people who hit their 60s who slow down a lot.”

Rowe adds that, cognitively, “all 40-year-olds are mostly the same, but when you get up to 80, there are people who are very, very good and some who are not so good.”

Loss of cognitive function exceeds after age 65

With increasing age, there is a greater likelihood of “non-normal loss” of cognitive function, he says, either dementia, the prevalence of which is about 10% at 65 and quadruples by one’s mid-80s, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Most people with dementia are 65 and older, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 14 million will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by 2060. “Obviously, somebody demented is not qualified to lead a country,” Rowe says. “So let’s just take that off the table.”

But for those with MCI—which occurs in 12–18% of people over 65 and causes behaviors such as forgetfulness and misplacing items—things can get “more interesting.”

Among the cognitive functions that decline with advancing age, he says, the easiest to study is speed of functioning. But while a lab test might show impairment, it’s usually just 10 milliseconds slower than the younger group, which may not be of much consequence.

For example, someone making a decision about international finance would have more than 10 milliseconds. “So some of the changes may not be functionally important,” he notes.

Snyder stresses that people are living longer, healthier lives than they were just a few decades ago. With that, they’re retiring later, and new research published in the journal Neurology suggests people who had cognitively stimulating jobs from their 30s through their 60s are at a lower risk of MCI and dementia in their 70s and beyond.

Plus, with age comes wisdom—just one aspect of aging that might, in fact, be beneficial to a leader.

The minimum age of a U.S. president is 35, the same age of typical cognitive ‘peak’

Some studies have shown that people reach their cognitive “peak” around age 35—the minimum age requirement for U.S. presidents—and that it lasts until some point in their mid-40s, when effects of cognitive aging may start, according to Patricia Boyle, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University and a neuropsychologist with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

“Of course, every person has a different experience as cognitive health can be influenced by genetics, diet, exercise, blood pressure, connectedness with others, and keeping their minds active or inactive,” she notes.

But then there are the advantages of aging. Rowe says there are aspects of intelligence, like vocabulary, that improve with age. And that’s not all. Studies have repeatedly shown older people have more emotional stability, he adds.

Wisdom that comes with age and experience can’t be discounted

Rowe points to a pair of studies from 2010 by Igor Grossmann, PhD, then at the University of Michigan and now director of the Wisdom and Culture Lab at the University of Waterloo in Canada. The research found that people 65–80 were much better at the following aspects of leadership:

• Bringing multiple perspectives to problems

• Allowing for compromise

• Recognizing the limits of current knowledge that’s available

• Resolving conflict

“Social reasoning improves with age despite a decline in fluid intelligence,” the research notes. “The results suggest that it might be advisable to assign older individuals to key social roles involving legal decisions, counseling, and intergroup negotiations.”

Rowe also points to a 2020 report by Laura Carstansen, PhD, professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. Her study of 1,000 people aged 18–76 found that, during the early days of the pandemic, older adults reported more resilience than younger people.

Older people were more likely to feel calm, interest, and appreciation, and less likely to feel negative emotions, like anxiety, Carstansen explained in an interview for Stanford on the study, attributing it to experience and a shift in perspective.

“People tend to view older people as frail and helpless, but there is enormous variability among older people, more so than younger people,” Carstansen said. “Some older people are quite infirm. As a group, however, older people are extraordinarily resilient and actually doing better than younger people in terms of emotional well-being.”

Maddy Dychtwald, author of Ageless Aging who has been a thought leader in the field of aging and longevity for 40 years, says that’s a gift of aging that cannot be overlooked.

If you feel more positive about life and are happier, “you bring that perspective to your leadership game,” she explains.

Rowe says it’s his view that if older people are cognitively intact, they can be expected to have more emotional stability, better problem-solving skills, and better negotiating skills.

But he also acknowledges he would not appoint a 95-year-old as president because the likelihood of serious adverse medical issues increases with advancing age.

So would he count an elderly person out altogether?

Rowe doesn’t think it’s fair, given all the obvious exceptions. And different institutions have different leadership needs at different times, he adds, highlighting Winston Churchill, who became the U.K. prime minister at age 66. “He was perfect for World War II, but when the war was over they voted him out of office, because the problems the country had to solve were not the problems that Winston Churchill could solve.”

Dychtwald points to many good examples of older leaders—including Warren Buffett, Pope Francis, and Nelson Mandela, who came into office at age 75. “I think they’re older and wiser and have the maturity to make decisions based on experiences,” she says.

Regarding the current conversation around presidents and age, she thinks people are looking at it in a myopic way, noting that her book examines three different kinds of aging—physical, psychological, and, of course, chronological.

“That’s what people seem really zeroed in on right now,” she says. “I’m 74 and I don’t think that defines me at all. In all modesty, I feel like I’m at the top of my game.”

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