Why Your Approach to Leadership Needs to Change

Why your Approach to Leadership Needs to Change

I spoke to a group of business professionals last week on the distinctions in preferences between different generations. You’ve likely heard some of the key differences highlighted in the past like the differences between a baby boomer’s preference for stability and predictability in their job versus a millennial’s preference for variety and autonomy.  These generational preferences are also further exacerbated by our own personal experiences and behavioural preferences.

Of these distinctions however one stands out above all others, what we prefer in a boss. A baby boomer and Generation X to some degree, prefer a boss who listens, is fair and acts in a consistent manner. A millennial on the other hand doesn’t want a boss at all… they prefer a mentor.

That’s right today’s millennial generation, now the largest generation in the workforce, in fact doesn’t want a boss at all. Let that sink in for a minute…

If you are a leader today this distinction suggests that most of what you’ve learned or been taught in the past about leadership is null and void for leading future generations.

If on the other hand you are considering becoming a leader, it’s quite possible that the job you’ve been pursuing is no longer relevant.

Alternatively if you are happy with your leader today their approach to leading is quite likely to change. Although not a bad thing this does suggest that their interactions with you will change.

Everything we’ve known, learned and practiced relative to effective leadership is, for all intensive purposes, about to change. What will vary however is the speed at which this change will take place. Industries like tech, in which younger generations tend to be dominant will likely shift towards a mentorship approach first, followed by more traditional industries like manufacturing.

Is a change for you or your organization underway?

I’d suggest that if an organization’s current approach to leadership doesn’t shift towards mentorship then in fact fewer millennials will work for that organization, which in turn will mean that eventually, as older generations stop working, the organization itself will be forced to introduce changes or cease to exist.

The rise of the millennial generation and the changes they’ll bring is both exhilarating and a bit scary. I’m not suggesting that the changes millennials prefer themselves are scary, quite the contrary, however everything we’ve known about our working environments in general and leadership specifically is about to change. Are you ready?

© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.

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