How things have changed! What use to be derogatory — “having your head in the clouds” — has become the best connected way of life. Cloud computing has integrated all my apparatuses and made my life a little more seamless. As long as my wireless is working I have instant access to just about everything. How has this impacted leadership? The style has shifted from the necessity of leaders as the storehouse of information, to the employees having access to that information from other sources than the leader. Those that have not made the shift have become extinct (even the ones still on the job).
The storehouse of knowledge, innovation, and decision-making has filtered down the line. We see this in the military (they usually get it right first). Young adults (18 and up), are given digital devices, and along with those devices, much more responsibility for input that goes into making strategic decisions.
Young workers (Millennials), embrace change and thrive on brainstorming. They love to create and they love to problem solve. They have the tools—mentally and technologically—to do it.
Today’s workers are capable of having as much information as their managers, and in some cases, have specialized skills that are more advanced than their bosses. Rather than being threatened by that, the smart boss leverages those skills. Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, “After years of telling corporate citizens to ‘trust the system’, many companies must relearn instead to trust their people—and encourage their people to use neglected creative capacities in order to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.” The good news is you don’t have to convince young employees to use their drive for self-expression and creativity.
Today’s young employees do have some allergies that need to be recognized.
- They are allergic to environments that require them to seek permission before making a contribution.
- They are hardwired that way.
- Self-expression is a part of their software. It was put in at an early age and is constantly being updated.
- The cloud is just one more download. YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. has not only allowed, but also encouraged them to express themselves.
So why would anyone expect an abrupt about face at their work?
Here’s what good companies ARE doing.
1. Acknowledge the shift in the style of leadership. Looking at the landscape and embracing the shift(s) will serve an organization well.
2. Have a vision that is clear and compelling. If it’s not meaningful it will not be compelling. Rather than barking out orders, create meaningful work. The young employee gravitates to this. Come to think of it, so does the older employee. It’s just that younger ones will leave quicker.
3. Make sure the organization’s values are aligned with behavior. The world is moving at an accelerated speed. It’s impossible to have a rule for every nuance. A better strategy is for the leaders to model the core values. The value-driven organization equips their people to make on the run decisions when a rule might not be readily available. Good judgment will be served by those values. Like the military, values enable decision-making to be pushed down the line.
4. Take an interest in your people. Even though young employees are LinkedIn, they can feel Left-Out. It’s in the relationship that your experience and core values will be contagiously caught
Innovation is the implementation of ideas. God has made this a part of our DNA. How is it encouraged in your organization?