In TomorrowToday we talk a great deal about the generations. Generational Theory is a framework we have shared in some 44 countries and I don’t think there can be any consultancy that can claim that kind of global footprint when it comes to this particular theory. Of course in the process we have learnt a great deal about how and where it applies; the value add it brings and the framework it is to better understand the challenges concerning the attraction and retention of ‘talent’.
As a leader, leading in a world of paradox, your challenge is to find frameworks that will help you make sense of that paradox. Certainly Generational Theory offers you one such framework. As you look to learn from the future, paying attention to the emerging Gen Y provides some sharp insights and understanding to that future. Former GE CEO, Jack Welch regarded Gen Y as the, “most exciting group in the world” for their outlook, skill-set and sense of purpose.
Olaf Swantee, CEO of Everything Everywhere (EE), a telecommunications company,
says there are three characteristics that are shared by the tech-savvy leaders of tomorrow.
1. They are collaborative decision-makers.
2. They are flexible and able to connect on a personal level.
3. They are prepared to challenge the status quo.
Gen Y will continue the tradition of leading differently to their generational predecessors. Their leadership style will be shaped by the fact that they have grown up in an information era and not only that, but that they know how to access that information. They are techno-savvy beyond anything we have seen before. These twin factors will reshape both education as well as information management. The expansive ripple effect that emanates from these two areas will in turn impact on many related areas – leadership education and transparency issues to name but two.
Smart leaders invest in their own understanding of Gen Y. Demographics point to Gen Y being increasing influential as both employees and customers and so understanding their worldview, spending habits, attitudes and values isn’t really optional as you look to the near future. Understanding they (Gen Y) have grown-up in a world unlike that which you grew-up in and, as a result, have a very different perspective, is fundamental to understanding exactly who it it is they are. Douglas Adams put it best when he said, “When you’re born, anything in the world is normal. Anything invented before you’re 35 is revolutionary. Anything invented after you’re 35 is unnatural and wrong”.
So be a smart leader and start reading, asking, observing and engaging when it comes to your future employees (although they will certainly act more like volunteers than employees!) and customers. Your own kids might be a good place to start and instead of clinging on to ‘your world’, start being curious about ‘their world’. The results might surprise you!