The leadership model is broken – and an entire generation of potential leaders is on the verge of falling through the cracks. Today’s organizations simply aren’t suited to thrive through today’s challenges, says Tammy Erickson, an authority on the changing workforce and generations at work. But to future-proof business, change needs to start at the top.
A cohort of Generation X (and soon to be Y) is poised to take the helm as Baby Boomers finally let go of the reigns and move on to their second careers. Yet, Xers are opting out; they simply don’t want to buy into or be part of the organization of old, Erickson explains. Boomers, who have been firmly in charge for several decades, are rule followers who set, abide by, and measure against standards. And that just doesn’t work for Generation X who simply sees the business world – and how it’s run – very differently. They thrive amidst uncertainty, are not afraid to experiment and change direction, and crave broad perspective bigger than themselves.
“It’s all about intelligence and how it’s leveraged,” says Erickson. “Organizations and their leaders need to focus on creating context – not structure – that empowers smart people with great ideas to make meaningful contributions.”
To do so, leaders must learn how to:
- Wire their organization to create the right connections and networks
- Ask great questions and accept that they don’t always have all the answers
- Underscore meaning, focusing on matter over money
- Eliminate bias to get beyond antiquated assumptions in the way of new and better approaches
These needs – and the leadership skills to address them – are exactly what Erickson, an executive fellow in organizational behavior at London Business School, homed in on as she designed a new executive education program. The program, which will launch this fall, ties together all of these new ideals to help leaders effectively bring their business, and their own leadership style, into the future.
The leadership mindset must evolve, confront and embrace new realities of how work “works,” she urges. Or else the business world risks missing out on not only visionary talent, but much needed opportunities to make a difference and impact the world.