Not admitting to the differences between generations will not make the differences go away.
If you’re going to do more than just occupy a leadership position, if you’re going to actually lead, then you’ll have to understand and use those differences.
One of the challenges in writing a series like this is that in the interest of time you almost have to use some generalities in your writing. When I finally get around to writing my book on leadership I promise I’ll add more specific detail.
If it is true that each generation is different, and it is true, then it is also true that there are differences within each generation as well. So many differences in fact that I couldn’t list them all, even in a book.
As a leader it is incumbent upon you to know those differences in your people. The fact that they come from a particular generation can give you some idea as how to lead them but it is a picture painted in shades of gray. To truly lead you must have a picture of your people painted in vivid color.
This is a picture not painted with a brush but with information. It requires information to truly know your people. To acquire the type of information needed for this picture you’ll have to talk WITH your people, not TO them. It will help immeasurably if you’ll listen too.
I frequently recommend to leaders that they periodically conduct innerviews with their people. No, I didn’t misspell that… I mean innerview, not interview. An interview is something you do when hiring someone. An innerview is something you do when you really want to know them.
It is maybe a five minute conversation about the person you’re innerviewing; it gives you the opportunity to discover what’s important to them, what motivates them, what their goals and objectives are. You’ll better understand their specific values and background. You’ll know how they want to be led and they will know that they and their ideas matter to you and their organization.
If you can invest 5 or 10 minutes a day to talk with the people of your organization, everyday, with all generations, you’ll lead more effectively than you ever thought possible.
The number one concern I hear from leaders when I share the “Innerview” concept is the time required to do it. 5 or 10 minutes a day, everyday. I’m amazed by the number of “leaders” who tell me they can’t afford the time.
If you don’t have the time to invest in your people then you simply don’t have the time to lead. You may need to move out of the way and let a “Kid” take over. I’d rather have an experienced leader who truly leads than an experienced person who merely occupies a leadership position.
So, feel like leading today? Then go do an innerview.