Are you Leading for Today or for Tomorrow?
One of the biggest challenges I have experienced in starting my own business following a long-term career is how to adapt to all the technological, environmental, political, institutional, economic and sociological changes that are happening in today’s world. I suddenly feel like all the experience, wisdom and leadership practices that I have relied on for so many years are no longer sufficient to take me where I want to go. I still get confused when I try to analyze and comprehend how Generations XYZ actually impact our work world, but suffice to say if you are over 50, I suspect you are challenged to adapt and keep up just like I am.
I recognize that the world is changing and I am challenging every part of my brain to absorb and accept that my leadership style needs to change as well. I know that to be a strong leader both today and in the future, I need to become adept not only at reacting quickly to events, but anticipating the needs of my clients and change before it occurs. I am also learning that there is no competitive advantage in being just like everyone else in my profession. I want to find innovative and creative ways using today's technologies to help my clients overcome whatever obstacles are preventing them from being their best and achieving true success. I don't want to be an average corporate image consultant and coach, I want to be the best in my field.
Two areas that impact our leadership styles the most are generational shifts and technology changes. These two elements are very much connected and if you chose to ignore them as a leader, you do so at your own peril. As Boomers make room for the new generation to make their entrance, significant changes are occurring to organizational structures and cultures. A common mistake made by Boomers is to assume that the next generation will see the world as they see it. I certainly don't prescribe to that assumption.
By virtue of my age, I think I am an ‘enlightened’ Boomer but I often feel and act more like a millennial. I totally recognize and appreciate that the new generation has evolved and adapted much quicker than I have. If you are a Boomer like me, just think about how the world was for our parents. It shouldn't take you but a second to say that their world was vastly different from ours. Whatever label we choose to give ourselves, we all need to understand that life as we knew it is changing at light speed and if we don't get on the bullet train, we are going to be left behind.
I often look at the work lives of my two grown children to gauge how I need to think. I see their work world as one that is incentivised by freedom, self expression, fun and flexibility in their work environment. They believe they can make a difference, work for a cause and contribute to something bigger than themselves. They are serious about environmental and social issues and I continue to learn and be inspired by my children.
Social technology has changed the leadership landscape and agenda. Our conversations have shifted and the issue is no longer what we can control but what we can influence. I still interact with leaders who believe they can control the conversation when in reality, they cannot. Instead of being fearful of the impact of social technologies on the workplace, we need to be smart leaders and understand how social technology can be used to have better relationships, conversations, information, innovation and collaboration.
There is an exciting and inviting learning journey that beckons leaders who understand that leadership needs to always embrace learning and curiosity. Leaders need to find themselves coaches who can help them to navigate social technology and more importantly, how to connect the dots in this often-confusing new world. I make it a point to chat with as many Gen XYZ people as I possibly can, I want to understand their world perspective so that I can see how I fit in it.
Each generation sees the world differently which means each generation’s perspectives and worldviews will have a direct impact on the workplace. If you are a leader, you should keep asking yourself- What am I learning? How can I shed the past? What will be the consequences of not adapting and learning? I challenge you to join me in becoming a leader who embraces everything the future has to offer. Let's go there together!