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Time for a New Leadership

3 min read

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watch-icon October 6, 2020

Time for a New Leadership

The digital disruption of the past 10-15 years means that everything we know about customers and employees is changing.

The new generation that are looking for leadership positions are different than the ones that came before. This is no great surprise, as every generation brings change and difference. However, one of the biggest differences in the generations coming into work now and who are the leaders of the future, is expectations. The expectations of themselves, as well as the expectation of their leaders and workplaces.

Through my work in leadership, coaching and culture change, I’ve noticed a big shift in expectations from employees – particularly those employees who are ambitious, about 3-5 years out of Uni and eager to move to into a leadership positions.

The expectations of this group includes having more flexibility, more money to live their lives with, more meaning in the work that they do, and all from a leadership role.

Talented and future focused thought leaders are saying clearly that leadership is something that you are, not something that you do. They are also saying that current old fashioned leadership expectations have to change or businesses will not succeed into the future.

In the future your leaders will work part-time, where they want and with autonomy…or you won’t have great leaders working for you, they’ll work for themselves.

The current rise of the solopreneur is demonstrating a need for more flexibility in the workplace, or we’ll loose all the great talent currently in the workplace to the world of freelance, and then you’ll have to buy your employee’s services at consulting rates.

Therefore, leadership training, as it is now, is completely inadequate for the kind of leaders and workplaces that will be needed and will be expected in the future.

There is too much focus on managing outcomes, and people. Instead the focus needs to be on managing expectations, innovation and mindset.

School’s are teaching young children to be leaders. We teach them that they can do whatever they want, be anything they want, and change the world if that’s their desire. We tell them that the world is a smorgasbord of opportunities. We speak to University students about being the best that they can be, and making sure that they are thinking critically and creatively. We talk about innovation, and the need for everyone to look for efficiency improvements, in themselves and the work that they do.

Every book a new generation leader picks up encourages them to find meaning in their work and find their joy/bliss/mojo…

And then they enter the workforce and everything they were promised disappears. They are told that they have to do what someone else says, what has been done before, and that they have to listen to ‘Jan/John’ because they happen to have been given the title of ‘Manager’. Is it any wonder that the new generation of leaders are leaving the business world in droves to become freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists, podcasters, and YouTubers (who knew that was going to be a profession 5 years ago!).

I predict that there will be a disruptive leadership revolution…in 2020 and beyond.

We have to start looking at new ways of creating leadership characteristics, rather than skills. We have to invest in mindset and self-actualisation development, rather than just leadership 101 training. We have to look beyond the traditional methods of learning leadership and seek alternatives to the current norms (refer to most leadership/management qualification or well established leadership programs and you will see the same curriculum that ‘Jan/John’ studied 30 years ago). We have to accept that future leaders will take learning into their own hands.

We have to accept that the future of leadership will look very different than what we see now.

The ‘Jan/John’s’ of the worlds are becoming redundant. Their skills are becoming obsolete in a world that is controlled more online than off, e.g.: your online reputation can now get you a job or get you fired. Our brand recognition and reputation is essential. People are realising that they need to run their careers like a business and no longer wait for their ‘Performance Development Discussion’ to progress their careers.

Personal PR and marketing skills are becoming so common that even marketers are realising that they have to do something different to engage this group of people because they aren’t falling for the old tricks anymore.

Workplaces and leadership is the same. Future leaders are not going to fall for the same old tricks anymore. The old “If you don’t like it here, go work somewhere else” policy of management doesn’t work with a group of people who are globally minded and mobile. The threat is moot.

“No worries dude, I’ll just do a bit of freelancing, head overseas for a bit and come back when you’re retired.”

Given the changes in our mindsets, expectations, way of working, and our customer expectations…we need to revolutionise leadership training and implement something new, fresh and focused on building self-leadership, identity, purpose, and self-acceptance for all people.

It’s time to focus on supporting these new leaders to succeed rather than fight against the change.

In the past we supported people to learn the tasks of working. Now University and Schools teach most of the tasks. Our workplace need to stop focusing on the task and focus on creating environments for people to flourish and reach their potential.

Human-centric designed development is here and is the way we can influence the future for the better.

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Michelle Holland