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What is the generation box you are in?
Can today’s leadership get beyond that last century thinking?
I am a baby boomer! I was born in the last century and even last millennium! That means without my presence in the web members of generation Z or millennials probably visualized me sitting in a wheelchair with a long white beard.
Did you notice, how many "boxes" or stereotypes there are in just two sentences?
Baby boomer, millennial, generation Z, older people are immobile!
Me writing about the "boxes" today was triggered by a recent article at raconteur, titled "Down with the kids: learning to lead gen Z".
Referring to a feature published by the New York Times in October 2021, entitled "The 37-year-olds are afraid of the 23-year-olds who work for them". How can that be? The Raconteur article also includes quotes from business leaders and experts like "… being well informed and hyper-connected makes gen Z uniquely powerful …", or "… work isn’t embedded in their lives as it was for many people before social media came along …" or "millennials typically use a smaller number of key news sources to stay informed, gen-Zers tend to frequent many more, channel-hopping in the process".
Did you count the boxes appearing in the above? I find it so interesting, how the way our brain works, impacts the way we think and behave. Creating mental structures, models, using boxes, and through that operating highly efficient has contributed to humans becoming the most successful species on earth. However, that mechanism may get destructive when it comes to interactions with, and relations among humans. Particularly if we are not aware of it!
We may have some traits, talents, interests in common, but we still are true individuals! Therefore, in my opinion the approach to leading people of any "generation" is not to standardize and create a "box" for everybody to be put in. With all the knowledge we already have about how our brain operates I believe it is time to leave standardization and stereotyping behind and become truly human.
As a boss in the current and future digital environment, I am not leading generations, genders, standardized creatures. I have to create followership of humans and therefore must apply the hyper personalized approach which is: Inclusion! Having a mindset of openness and transparency and truly acknowledging I am different, you are different and there is no "norm", no "box" for us!
That is not the easy way, because it requires operating against some deeply engraved brain patterns. However, it is the only way to leverage the potential in every human being.
As the world is never black or white there are also brain patterns that we can utilize to get out of the "box" thinking and acting. Many of those patterns have been covered by years of education and socialisation, but they are still there. Curiosity, the urge to experiment we all have as a child, can be utilized for innovation, which so many companies are desperately looking for.
Therefore, as a leader create an environment where it is save for everybody to live up to her and his individual talents and desires. Be truly inclusive and foster experimenting and you will not have to worry about which GENer you are dealing with.