31-year-old leader: My lack of experience has no impact on my confidence
Rikke Krause is Managing Director of the Coloplast innovation factory in Espergærde. She is 31 years old. That makes her one of the few younger leaders among countless older ones. This Managing Director has no problem about not being genned up on all the details, as long as her colleagues are.
According to Statistics Denmark, you are considerably younger than the average leader. Does your age have any influence on your approach to management?
“The short answer is ‘no’. But it’s more complex than that. There’s often a correlation between being young and being a relatively inexperienced leader. In my case, I have been a leader for four years. That can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Naturally, the more experience you have, the more you’ve already tried your hand at all sorts of things. You’ve learned what doesn’t work and what causes problems. I’ve still got all that to come. I tackle tasks in the belief that any problem can be solved. But it’s also very much about personality. I’m also aware of young leaders who are less optimistic and at times maybe have a more realistic approach to things than I do.
Your team includes colleagues who are older than you, and who have significantly more experience. Does that affect your management style and your relationships with members of staff?
“I don’t think so. My lack of experience has relatively no impact on my confidence. I’m not afraid of facing someone who has more experience than I do. And I’m not afraid of asking stupid questions. Basically, I have no problem about not knowing everything. But nor was I appointed for the purpose of challenging my colleagues’ professionalism. My strength lies in leading us through the voyage of change, which the factory is on.
Do you use older and more experienced leaders as sounding boards?
“Yes. I have a mentor who is older than me, and for whom I in turn act as mentor. He challenges me with his greater knowledge and experience, while I challenge him in terms of how he views the world. It’s a great mutual arrangement, and we both get something out of it. But actually, when it comes to age, I don’t really believe in the importance of diversity. You can easily have a 30-year-old and a 60-year-old who have more in common in terms of management style than two peers. I believe more in diversity in relation to personality and education.