Millennials are not so young anymore. They’re currently between 27 and 42 years old. The older ones have been in the workforce for about two decades. Some of them are already in leadership positions. Others are on the verge. And most importantly, their teams are starting to be made up of members of Generation Z (1996-2010). How does the leadership of the new generations change the organisational culture of the companies in which they work?
What will I read about in this article?
The generational handover of leadership in organisations
The baby boomers grew up in a very different world of work, explains academic and entrepreneur Bill George, in this Harvard Business School article. A time when business schools taught management rather than team leadership. In his new book True North, Emerging Leader Edition: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace (co-written with Zach Clayton, CEO of digital marketing firm Three Ships), he urges young people to embrace a new style of leadership that leaves behind displays of power and control. Instead, it urges them to foster a collaborative, understanding and supportive approach to professional development.
The truth is that the traditional idea of the leader —that powerful and assertive individual who guides people to results through sanctions and recognition— is rapidly being replaced by more contemporary and innovative perspectives.
Today, the requirements have changed. And they’ve done so because the workforce is not the same. New generations of workers have different values and principles that have shaped who they are, and what work and organisational culture mean to them.
Generation Z workers insist that we write a new script for the world of work. They demand more from workplaces: more time off, work flexibility and greater social and environmental responsibility. Many of these values were preferences of millennials, but for Generation Z they have become real expectations and they’re willing to change jobs if their needs are not met.
Young people are already shaping and influencing society and the workplace in numerous ways. And one of them is the way their superiors —the millennials who are now reaching managerial positions— lead.
“The new generations have other values and principles that have shaped what work and organisational culture means to them.
How do the new generations understand leadership?
Leadership styles have evolved over time, and the differences between generations are notable. Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, tend to adopt a more traditional, hierarchical approach to leadership, while millennials and Generation Z prefer more collaborative and flexible leadership styles. In this article we look at the different motivations of each group, which can be summarised as follows:
* Baby Boomers: have a hierarchical leadership style. They value hard work, loyalty and achievement and often emphasise the importance of relationships in business.
* Millennials: tend to be more collaborative and team-oriented than previous generations and place a high value on diversity and inclusion. They seek opinions before making decisions. They’re also generally more tech-savvy than previous generations.
* Generation Z: their leadership style is still developing. They’re very comfortable with technology and social media and value authenticity and transparency. They want to inspire improvements in society and prioritise people’s well-being.
It’s important to note that not all people of a particular generation will fit these characteristics. In addition, each leader will have his or her own unique approach to leadership, regardless of their age, background or year of birth.
Today, we live in a rapidly evolving world, facing constant business and technological disruption that requires people with a high capacity to adapt, tolerate change and learn. This has meant a shift from hard skills to soft skills, putting more emphasis on how leaders manage their teams and bring out the best in each member.
According to Bill George, it’s not surprising that the proliferation of genuine leadership coincides with the arrival of emerging leaders. New generation leaders have very different expectations, beliefs, values and goals than their predecessors.
These generational differences in leadership reflect the social, economic and technological changes that have shaped the experiences and expectations of each group. While each leadership style has its merits and challenges, it is crucial that organisations recognise and value generational diversity, fostering an inclusive and collaborative environment in which all voices can be heard and considered.