Great company leaders are an essential component of organisational success. They ensure everyone is on the same page, actively working to achieve and surpass company objectives. Effective leaders set direction, inspire and motivate. However, what it takes to lead and encourage individuals will change over time. What may have been considered the ideal leader forty years ago may be irrelevant today.
The face of leadership is something that is constantly shifting, which has a direct impact on how to best recruit, motivate and train the leaders of the future. Below we’ll explore what has changed from generation to generation, what unites great leaders and how we can encourage great leadership in our organisations.
How different generations respond to leaders
To observe the necessity of adaptable leadership, we need to look at how previous and current generations are inspired and motivated. What works for one generation will not necessarily yield results with the next. For example, the Baby Boomer generation had a significant focus on salary and performance. In the workplace, they were extremely goal-orientated and learned to work well with an authoritative leadership approach. They have a strong work ethic, work better in small teams and thrive on a challenge.
The following generation, Generation X, are more sceptical in nature and prefer to work independently. They hate being micromanaged and instead prefer a mentor-style relationship with their managers, where they have room to grow, adapt and make their own choices. There were a lot of ‘latchkey’ kids in this generation, meaning both parents were hard at work and they were forced to be self-reliant at a young age. This is reflected in their dedication to work and their independent nature.
Millennials are technologically-inclined. Communication is important to them and, as such, they appreciate real-time feedback and teamwork. They are also constantly striving to improve upon themselves and to make an impact in the world. An effective company leader will have to adapt their approach to include regular performance discussions, as millennials need to feel that their supervisor is a relatable and approachable coach, rather than an intimidating, faceless authority figure.
What unites leaders throughout time?
Though the way in which company leaders operate may change over time, there are a few critical elements that unite leaders through the generations. These include the ability to hold onto and work towards a particular vision, while being able to clearly articulate this goal to their team. They act with integrity, are honest, committed, hard-working individuals who network effectively and have the ability to bring these qualities out in other people, whilst all the while allowing for their individual differences.
Are we experiencing a leadership shortage?
Research published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) has been shown that an incredible 93% of UK businesses believe their company’s success is likely to be compromised due to a shortage of skilled managers. There is a proven link between business performance and managerial leadership, so organisations need to take action to ensure their company thrives long-term. This can be done by selectively hiring candidates with leadership potential, encouraging skill development and implementing leadership development schemes.
Recruiting potential leaders
If companies are looking to attract the leaders of tomorrow, hiring managers must begin with their recruitment assessment processes. The recruitment process needs to be carefully considered and structured. It is worth considering the use of psychometric testing during the early stages to test for characteristics, strengths and skills that lend themselves to leadership and management.
Psychometric testing is used by leading conglomerates, including 80% of the US Fortune 500 and 75% of the UK FTSE 100 companies. Noteworthy examples include KPMG, Ford, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Procter & Gamble. If the right psychometric testing tools are used and the right people are hired to interpret the results, objective testing has also been shown to cut recruitment costs by up to 40%.
Training leaders to excellence
Some people may be born with certain leadership traits, but it is essential to develop your leaders to ensure they are capable of dealing with all the pressures and demands of management. This can be done through the use of a leadership development programme or executive coaching.
Executive coaching helps individuals transition to a higher level in the company. They act as an objective, rational third party who is able to give advice, pointing out areas that might need work. Leadership development programmes have been used to teach individuals how to cope with change, how to deal with daily managerial challenges and how to adapt your particular leadership style to get the best out of your team.
One source claims 65% of all companies with leadership development programmes drive improved business results, compared to 6% of organisations without a leadership development programme. The same study also demonstrates that 86% of companies with a programme are able to rapidly respond to changing market conditions.
As the years go by, our employees are becoming increasingly independent and driven. Millennials are eager to work for themselves or to be given the leeway to do work in their own way. This poses challenges to management, but with the right training and support in place, you can ensure that your company will be thriving and competitive for years to come.