Workplace Leadership: Bridging the Generational Cohorts

Leadership generational gapsGender inequality in wages and promotional opportunities used to be the hot topic in HR meetings and workplace chatter, but this issue has been overshadowed by the office talk about the Millennials (Gen Y) and how to manage their job expectations and performance.  With Millennials accounting for ~ 50% of the American workforce today and growing to 75% by 2025, businesses are wrestling with how to assimilate Gen Y with older employees who span several generational cohorts (Maturists, Baby Boomers, and Gen X).  Instead of focusing on gender inequities, many office conversations and Facebook posts make fun of the Millennials.  Might this be a broad form of cyber bullying?  Do these pokes help to bridge the gap or do they solidify what we believe to be true and allow us to vent some frustration?

Leaders should be asking themselves, “How can our company help our employees build stronger and more productive relationships across generational cohorts?”   I propose the first step is for all employees to understand the workplace landscape and appreciate what each generation brings to the team.  Questions that should be answered are: (1) what are the different generational cohorts at play within the organization, (2) what are these cohort characteristics, strengths, motivators, needs, values, and preferences, (3) what can each generation recognize as value-add from another, and (4) how can work and communication be constructed that honors and values all contributions.  A leadership coach can facilitate constructive conversation that starts the process; whereby, each employee becomes educated about the generational dynamics and actively looks for ways to productively engage the other generations.

Personal judgment should be suspended of other cohorts’ attitudes and behaviors, because good/bad or right/wrong are only relative assessments. People are products of their culture, and each generation, including Gen Z entering the workforce today, has been raised within their own unique global experiences and technology platforms.  For example, Maturists (born pre-1945), who grew up during the Depression and WW II, lacked many basic necessities and a sense of security.  As a result, Maturists drove toward the preference of “jobs for life.”

The dynamics of the generational cohorts have been compared to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where Maturists entered the workforce at the first levels with the expectations that jobs served to meet their physiological and safety needs.  On the other hand, Gen Y has been culturized during a time of American abundance and within families where children were given a priority in the family structure.  Gen Y’s parents raised them with a strong sense of love/belonging and provided activities and rewards to build esteem. Having had the first four levels of Maslow’s needs met, it should come as no surprise that Millennials entered the workforce looking to achieve the next level—self-actualization. A need for self-actualization would easily translate into the need for a job that provides meaning and a higher purpose rather than just to collect a paycheck.

Debating the fairness or reasonableness of what each generation expects from work drives wedges among cohorts rather than fostering the conversation in how to bring the generations together. Businesses need to openly talk and act constructively in bridging the generations, because each cohort has a unique ability to offer value.  Leadership coaches can help businesses facilitate these conversations.   A company cannot mandate a bridge be built, but it can encourage and provide a coach, who can help employees design and build the bridge they all want to walk across.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development and leadership.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations engaged all its employees to their fullest potential.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

What’s in Your Leadership Box?

Leadership BoxYou’ve likely heard the saying, “Big things come in small packages,” which can be translated into practical terms as: “Do not underestimate something’s value based on its packaging.” This concept applies as much to leadership as it does to a gift.  Leadership is not necessarily packaged in a big box with a boldly colored bow but likely wrapped in a modest box with a refined ribbon.

Although leadership expresses itself in casting vision, building effective teams, setting goals, solving problems, and inspiring teams to action, I propose most people would describe leadership by the attributes of a leader who casts vision and inspires people to change.  While many give leadership recognition to the person who articulates the vision, Hybels (2009) describes 10 key leadership styles that are required for any organization to grow.  Which ones can you identify on your team?

  • Visionary: casts vision; draws people in
  • Directional: chooses the right path at critical junctures
  • Strategic: align teams and breaks an exciting vision into actionable steps
  • Management: organizes people, processes, and resources to achieve the mission
  • Motivational: keeps the team fired up
  • Shepherding: builds, nurtures, supports, and listens to the team
  • Team-building: finds and develops the right people with the right characteristics, character, and chemistry, and puts them in the right positions to get the right results
  • Entrepreneurial: possesses many leadership styles but optimally functions in start-up mode
  • Re-engineering: thrives on turning around teams who struggle because they are missing a leadership element
  • Bridge-building: deals with complexity and brings many groups under a single leadership umbrella

I believe great leadership involves building an organization, where all the leadership styles are represented and recognized for their contribution.  No leadership style is more important than another, because failure in one area impacts a company’s ability to achieve their goals.  A company is only as successful as the sum of its parts or as strong as its weakest link.

Each leadership style has a critical mission to accomplish.  Do you know your primary leadership styles and how they impact your organization?  I suggest all leaders answer these three questions for themselves:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, what is your ability on each of the 10 leadership styles?
  2. Does your current position allow you to drive on your leadership strengths?
  3. If not, how can you use more of your leadership strengths in your current role?

 

Reference

Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360o Leader.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in business development and leadership.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ specific  business needs.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Agility Is The New Must-Have Work Competency

Leaders Agile ChangeAs the speed and impact of technology continues to advance, agility is the new must-have competency that many employers are asking of their employees and screening for during the interview process. Agility has become as important as the those “bread and butter” competencies of personal initiative, concern for effectiveness, enthusiasm for work, and excellent communication skills. Many people assume agility is the same as flexibility, but I believe agility demands a higher performance level that leaves the typical definition of flexibility in the dust.

As a work competency, flexibility refers to the willingness and ability of employees to respond to changes in their job expectations and work environment. Flexibility is certainly valued by employers, who understand that human nature typically resists change and prefers predictability. I propose that agility is a proactive competency and defines how employees approach and carry out their work. Since agile employees expect change, they proactively develop ways to organize and adapt to deliver transformational results. Great leaders coach change management and help their teams grow their agility quotient, so they can continue to innovate in a volatile and complex business environment.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, leadership expert, and consultant with an extensive background in business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates specific workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

What is a Leader’s Job Description?

leadership helping othersWhat is the job description of a leader?  I believe the number one responsibility of a leader is to draw out leadership in others.  Who is more qualified to develop an emerging leader than another leader?  If a leader will not do it, who else will?  Although investing time in another leader may seem like adding more to a growing to-do list, leaders benefit and perform at their best when they coach and mentor emerging leaders.  True leaders not only make it a priority to spend the time with other leaders, but they create opportunities for emerging leaders to develop their competencies.  Foster and Auerbach (2015) pointed to research that showed that the most effective formula for developing leadership competencies was: (1) 70% on the job learning through shadowing others and stretch job assignments, (2) 20% from coaching and mentoring, and (3) formal training or education.

What does leadership look like?  If you ask a dozen people, you may get a dozen different answers, although I suspect you would get some common themes focused on character traits such as honesty, integrity, initiative, and intelligence, and perhaps skills such as being a good communicator and delegator.  People are usually attracted to leaders who have charisma and display extroversion.  The truth?  Leaders come in all shapes and more importantly styles.  Although the media portrays great leaders as espousing grand visions, the reality is that great leadership is reflected in many different faces.  Bill Hybels (2009) described many of the varied leadership styles that are required to continually innovate and grow an organization.  Each style plays a necessary role, and those organizations that appreciate and leverage these different leaders will flourish.

  1. Visionary: casts powerful visions with an undefeatable enthusiasm to turn visions into reality
  2. Directional: chooses the right path for an organization at it approaches critical intersections where decisions about direction are needed
  3. Strategic: breaks down an exciting vision into a series of defined, achievable steps and brings subgroups into alignment to realize the vision
  4. Managing: brings order out of chaos by establishing appropriate milestones to the destination and organizing people, processes, and resources to achieve a mission
  5. Motivational: keeps the team fired up and operating on all cylinders
  6. Shepherding: builds, nurtures, and supports a team which draws people together regardless of the cause
  7. Team-building: selects and develops the right team members based on their abilities, character, and chemistry and places them in the right positions for the right reasons to produce the right results
  8. Entrepreneurial: possesses many other leadership styles but optimally functions in start-up mode
  9. Re-engineering: like entrepreneurial leaders although functions best in turn-around environments or troubled situations
  10. Bridge-building: brings together a diverse group of people under a single leadership umbrella to stay focused on a single mission

Do you see yourself in any one of more of these leadership styles?  Does your organization value your leadership style?  Is your leadership style needed in your organization and aligned with your job responsibilities?  These are a few questions you should answer for yourself as you plan to grow in leadership capacity.  Regardless of where you lie on the leadership continuum, there are likely other emerging leaders behind you, who could benefit from your leadership knowledge and coaching.  Know your leadership style, and be the leader who invests in other leaders.

References

Foster, S., & Auerbach, J. (2015). Positive psychology in coaching: Applying science to executive and personal coaching. Pismo Beach, CA: Executive College Press.

Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous leadership: Field-tested strategy for the 360o leader. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

 

Coaching: Turning Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy

Many people ask me what I do as a leadership and life coach since the occupation of coaching has typically only been associated with sports, voice, and acting professions.  At its core, coaching is about setting a vision for some area of your life such as career, business, finances, and marriage and then determining what actionable steps you will take to achieve defined goals that will move you toward that vision.  A coach is your partner, who helps you navigate through that process with assessments, constructive dialogue, input, and feedback, as well as holdingBest Version you accountable to your commitments.

A coach will help you uncover your core values, your strengths/weaknesses, and challenge you in how to use those strengths to get want you want.   Coaches will help you develop the best version of yourself.  They can help you cast vision, build teams, set goals, solve problems, and lead others.  People “get stuck” or just need a “brush up” for a variety of reasons, and a coach can help convert your potential energy (resting) into kinetic energy (moving), so you can thrive and move forward.

Since coaching is about forward progress, I believe everyone can benefit from coaching.  Just a sampling of issues that people seek coaching for include:

  • Learn how to communicate more effectively to have more constructive conversations and less conflict
  • Build stronger team and peer relationships to increase work productivity and effectiveness
  • Lead with greater influence to bring out the best in yourself and others
  • Gain greater self-control and see how people respond more positively
  • Find the career path/job that provides greater satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Strengthen your marriage or dating relationship for increased longevity
  • Parent more effectively to build stronger relationships and create greater harmony
  • Develop a financial plan that achieves your long-term goals
  • Learn to prioritize and work towards the things that really matter

If you find yourself questioning or wondering whether you could benefit from coaching in these or other areas of your life, let’s talk.  I invite you to a free 30-minute consultation, where we can discuss what you would like to achieve and whether coaching would be of value.  If interested or even if you want to learn more about coaching, you can reach me at 281.793.3741 or sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, career, finances, leadership, communication, and premarital/marriage.  

Where Does Leadership Start?

Leadership LeadAlthough everyone has their own perspective on what leadership entails and the key characteristics embodied by leaders, few would disagree that leadership involves the ability to influence people.  Many people struggle with how to increase their leadership capacity within their families, work, and communities.  I propose that the first step in expanding your leadership capacity is learning to lead yourself better.  What are your emotional intelligence, attitudes, and behaviors reflecting into the world? How are you preparing and working on yourself to be a better leader, so you have greater influence with your skills, competencies, creativity, and knowledge?  Although self-reflection might be the start in developing self-awareness, an objective self-evaluation may prove difficult.  You may receive more useful feedback, when you ask trusted friends and colleagues.  Although family can be a source of leadership feedback, the closer the emotional connection, typically the more biased the feedback.   The following general questions are examples that should solicit concrete feedback for self-reflection.

  • Would you provide an example where you believed I could have had more influence?  What could I have done more or less of that would have affected a better outcome?
  • What changes should I consider in my general behaviors to achieve greater influence?  Would you provide an example where this change might have led to a different outcome?
  • When you observe me leading at my best, what am I doing or not doing?

Some people only provide congratulatory remarks and refrain from feedback that could result in “shooting the messenger.”  Other people will be caught off guard when you ask such questions and may need time to process and think of specific examples.  In this case, schedule a second meeting to receive that feedback.  I find if you appear sincere in wanting the feedback for self-improvement, people are likely to provide an honest evaluation.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

Leadership Competency Balance

Everyone is a leader, because a leader influences people, situations, and outcomes.  The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are leading well.   American culture tends to define a great leader as one who has vision and demonstrates boldness and decisiveness.

Boldness and decisiveness

Although these competencies can be leveraged for significant impact, if they are not tempered with equal amounts of wisdom and understanding, their effectiveness may be diminished.  Effective leaders understand and apply their competencies in a balance way that supports moving people toward the goal.  Where might you be out of balance?  Are you paralyzed in making a decision that moves you forward, because you want to please everyone?  Does your boldness alienate others?  Does your decisiveness without sensitivity leave others in your dust?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.