The characteristics Gen Y brings to the workforce will create a whole new brand of leader. See how.
by Emily Jasper
Business leaders have a variety of styles. Jack Welch may have been known as “Neutron Jack” because of his decision to trim thousands of jobs at General Electric, yet his desire to be first or second in GE’s markets allowed the company to focus on what it does best. Donald Trump crosses the line into outrageous celebrity, but no one can doubt his flair for business.
What will the business leaders of our generation be like?
They will strive for self-actualization
We are a generation that feels we have all the potential in the world. However, we will not squander it. We pursue Maslow’s “desire for self-fulfillment” not because we should, but because we are driven to do so. With this comes a reality in which once we have accomplished some achievement, we will already be thinking about our next grand pursuit.
They will be experts who lead
Engineers, scientists and technical experts are in high demand. They come out of top universities ready to change the world, and they walk into businesses that expect them to understand the people side of business as well the technical side. These future leaders will not have positions of authority and respect because they only understand the human side, but because they are able to marry the two with success. We will have leaders who are able to “do” and execute as well inspire the best from their people.
They will understand scale and scope
Business failure can often be directed towards issues with scale and scope. Economically, you must know the points at which it is more cost effective to produce more volume of the same or bundles of a variety. However, beyond economics, more of one or more of many can change the nature of a business. In trying to be the best in one, you may limit yourself and be unable to compete in a market of other perfect substitutes. In trying to be everything to everyone, you are never differentiated.
They will be willing to fail
We consider failure part of everyday life. We don’t like it, but we accept it. Our future leaders know that things aren’t going to work out each and every time they make a decision, but they go in ready for the consequences. What will set the best apart, however, will be the willingness to personally invest in these decisions. Leaders don’t believe bad things happen to them or that they are constant victims. Instead, they take personal responsibility over the things they can control.
They will understand the value of the team
We are a collaborative generation, and we can produce better results as a team than as individuals working together. However, we also know that you must contribute. No one gets a free ride in our teams, and our leaders will expect the same from the teams they run. Perhaps it will be the same Welch philosophy: if you don’t want to be here, we don’t want you either. Our leaders will fill their teams with active contributors, not people hoping to lay low until retirement.
They will be international
International doesn’t mean “I spent a summer in Florence.” No, international means you’re working on teams with people from 15 countries. You’re willing to get in the office at 6:00 a.m. so you can reach your team in Paris. You take time to read about, visit and absorb cultures across the globe. Americans will also understand they are not dominant by default. They know they must work with other countries which are becoming or have been leaders themselves.
They will be fabulous
As CEO coach and branding expert Ellen Lubin-Sherman writes in The Essentials of Fabulous: Because Whatever Doesn’t Work Here Anymore, “Being fabulous requires respect for old-world courtliness as well as adapting to the latest technology…Being fabulous requires enthusiasm, a love of purpose and people (and yourself!), and a passion for living that’s more contagious than chicken pox.” Our leaders will possess that je ne sais quoi (also known as charisma) that makes people turn when they walk into a room. These leaders will be able to traverse generations, styles and cultures flawlessly.
You have the capacity to be one of these great leaders. Take a look at what you are doing professionally, personally and culturally to make yourself stand out. We have many years ahead of us, but we are able to set the stage now.
Emily Jasper is a young professional attempting to understand the journey. She writes about her own observations, in addition to questioning various perspectives different from her own and those of her generation, at her blog From the Gen Y Perspective.