Juggling multigenerational teams and global offices while also tending to individual employees’ needs for training, coaching and mentoring? The role of a business leader today is complex and challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Here, we review trending leadership tools and tactics from a variety of thought leaders in the field.
1. Adapt Your Management Style for a Multigenerational Workforce
In today’s workplace, we can have as many as five generations of employees all working toward the success of the company in their own unique ways. As we highlighted in an earlier blog, it’s critical that leaders take the time to understand the differences in work styles of each of these generations, and adjust management techniques to better resonate with each one.
- Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) — Don’t waste their time or make them feel their time is being wasted. Take time to underscore the importance of the work they’re doing as well as the positive impact of their overall contribution to the team.
- Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) — Younger Boomers prefer in-person meetings, webinars, and video chats as primary means of communication. They also prefer to be in control of the message of the conversation, so give them the opportunity to run meetings when appropriate.
- Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976) — Keep Gen X-ers in the loop at all times via informal communication (emails, one-on-one conversations, etc.). Most important of all, keep them feeling challenged in their work by continually raising the stakes and complexity of tasks.
- Millennials / Gen Y (born between 1977 and 1994) — Provide frequent feedback on employee performance. Rather than a quarterly or annual review, consider a monthly review for Millennials, or even regularly scheduled peer reviews.
- Gen Z / Gen 2020 (born after 1995) — Keeping this technology- and device-based generation focused is critical to the team’s success, as they can get sidetracked easily. Be sure to provide them with realistic project deadlines and production timelines.
Each of these generations has their own positive attributes. Find ways to celebrate your team’s diversity and encourage team members to learn from and mentor each other.
2. Communicate with Courage
It’s been said that in today’s business environment, it’s not as important that leaders be charming or dynamic so much as they simply need to be transparent and communicative.
That includes being willing and able to lead what Lamson Consulting’s President and CEO calls “courageous conversations” amongst team members, customers and stakeholders. In her recent article, Melissa Lamson points out that when working in a culturally diverse global business environment, misunderstandings can easily occur. To create compassion and empathy — and get projects back on track — leaders must have the courage to facilitate difficult but honest conversations to clear the air.
3. Walk the Talk to Create a Positive Learning Environment
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, senior leadership coach Kristi Hedges says it’s not enough for managers to merely suggest that team members seek out external training opportunities to bolster professional growth. Rather, managers can shape the company culture in a positive way by routinely sharing their own specific takeaways after attending training events themselves.
Hedges suggests that managers should come back from every workshop or training with a story about what they learned — whether it’s about their own personal shortcomings that were revealed during a workshop, or a new strategy they’d like to try out — and they should take the time to share that story with the entire team.
Good leaders should encourage team members to do the same so that everyone on the team can benefit. In addition, managers should be willing to try out new ideas or strategies that naturally arise out of these types of group discussions.
4. Learn from (and Celebrate) Failures
When it comes to the subject of failure, Insperity performance consultant Kelah Raymond admits that avoidance is usually everyone’s primary goal. But not only is failure unavoidable, it’s a necessary evil.
In a recent blog post, Kelah explains that top leaders should anticipate and expect failure … and even embrace it when it happens. Failure, she says, helps build leadership muscles by forcing you to change your thinking about the negative aspects of the situation and instead pinpoint the positive outcomes.
By taking the time to debrief the team and analyze what happened, why things happened the way they did, and what could be done better next time around, the entire team can learn, grow and evolve in ways that could never have happened prior to that failure.
Avoid blaming and shaming to create a safe space where employees feel emboldened to test new ideas.
5. Put the Team’s Success Ahead of Your Own
As Globoforce’s Sarah Payne discussed in a recent article, the role of team leaders has changed over the years from boss or supervisor to that of coach, mentor and even cheerleader. Top leaders today often function more like career counselors for both subordinates and peers.
Proactively seek out training on how to properly coach and mentor others so you can improve your department’s employee retention rate and position teammates for successful career tracks within the company — both of which will have a positive impact on your human resources ROI.
6. Identify and Nurture Tomorrow’s Leaders
The best leaders and visionaries possess that distinctive combination of skills that allows them to be fully present in the current situation while also focusing on opportunities to shape the future leadership of the company.
Current trends in leader development — such as gamification-based training and the need to identify and nurture more women leaders — underscore the need for in-house, “grow-your-own” programs and diversification to ensure a vibrant leadership culture in years to come.
Are you ready for the leadership challenges of the future? What’s most concerning for you as a business leader? Let us know in the comments below.