Leadership in the age of letter generations

leadership development

Leadership is becoming more and more complex, because the younger generations and their different demands make it more and more difficult. The balancing act between demands and expectations could not be greater. One could say that the generation “X” and the early generation “Y” are still strongly career-oriented.

That means they are striving for “more”. The “more” can have different effects. For example, that a professional career is pursued right up to the board of directors or that one wants to earn a lot of money. Both representatives of this performance-oriented group are prepared to “walk the extra mile” to achieve their goal. They need a leadership style that spurs employees on and shows them time and again that they can achieve their goals if they work hard enough.

If you compare them with the generation “End Y” and “Beginning Z”, then we notice that both the attitude and the way they work have changed. This generation puts emphasis on completely different things at work. Take, for example, a young woman of 24. It is especially important to her to have a lot of free time to realize herself and to enjoy life. The first ones might think: “Typical, the young people! Think only of pleasure”. But isn’t that exactly what life is today? To be able to use the many offers?!

The young woman is well aware of her position and her competence. She is of the opinion that at work she gives every competence and labor to the employer. She concentrates fully on the projects and works through them very efficiently. In return, she expects fair and humane treatment, opportunities to develop, and the opportunity to work at home. She is not necessarily willing to work a lot of overtime. When that happens, she wants to have a balance.

Another wish that is often heard from representatives of the “Z” generation is that it is particularly important for them to be self-determined. This means that they want to make their own decisions and determine how they organize their daily work. Granting this “self-determination” is not always easy for older generations. In addition, expectations towards employers have grown. This means both development opportunities and other benefits. These would be, for example, a job bike, an annual ticket for public transport or the possibility of staying abroad.

Work-life blending

The term work-life balance has now changed to work-life blending. This can mean two things: Some want to take work with them into their free time. This means that they also want to quickly answer an e-mail or make a phone call from home or on holiday. Those who advocate the second philosophy, on the other hand, want to fully separate work and leisure time. They leave the company mobile phone at work in the evening and don’t take the laptop home with them. Both do not make it easy for managers when their respective views and values are completely different.

What does this mean in concrete terms for a manager?

It’s not easy to do justice to these generations XYZ as boss. A manager experiences here that he needs the whole range of leadership competence. Depending on the generation of the leader, some things will be easier or harder for her. Perhaps one or the other needs completely new competencies.

A manager has to be able to coach his employees more and more. This means that the executive needs a variety of coaching tools for the new leadership role. A manager who has mastered coaching tools will find it much easier to adapt his own communication to the respective employee. This has nothing to do with the slang used, but refers to understanding and appreciating the frame of reference and the values of the respective counterpart. Managers must adapt to the way of thinking and life expectancy of the respective person or generation.

Communication is crucial to how well employees feel and how productive they are as a result. A model that is very suitable for developing such communicative skills is the “I-status” from transactional analysis. It is just as important to be able to carry out a good problem analysis. An employee often mentions as a problem something that is “socially recognized” or corresponds to a common pattern. However, this statement does not necessarily fit the actual problem or the actual cause. Too often the problem that the employee has given a known name to is dealt with. Then the manager tries to solve the problem with solution strategies that ignore the real causes. This is why the coaching tool “problem analysis” is so important. If the manager can analyze the actual problem, then he is able to offer a suitable measure.

Today’s executives are confronted with many more situations in which they urgently need coaching tools as support. Basically it can be said that managers need more and more skills to successfully lead a team – without the well-known phenomenon “employees come because of the company and leave because of the manager”.

Published by Dave John

Decade of work experience in leadership consulting with strong focus on talent acquisition & assessment across different industries and geographies.

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