Preparing Leaders to Meet Gen Y Expectations by Adam Bawany in Daily FT - 27 May 2014


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Preparing Leaders to Meet Gen Y Expectations by Adam Bawany in Daily FT - 27 May 2014

  1. 1. Management & Leadership TUESDAY MAY 27, 2014 12 Effective leaders in organisations bring together both individu- als and organisations to solve customer and organisational prob- lems, but there is a dif- ference between leaders and leadership. L e a d e r s r e f e r t o individuals who have unique capabilities to guide the behaviour of others to deliver outstanding results o r r e s o l v e i s s u e s . Leadership refers to an organisation’s capacity to build future leaders and leadership bench strength. A n i n d i - vidual leader matters, but an organisa- tion’s leader- ship matters m o r e o v e r t i m e b o t h t o s h a r e - holders and c u s t o m e r s . T h e r e f o r e , organisations must not only invest to help i n d i v i d u a l leaders to be more ef fec- tive through coaching, 360 feedback, and by executing i n d i v i d u a l development plans, but also must invest to build leader- ship depth by devoting sufficient time for lead- ership development. Build leadership Generally there are a few key things that organisations can do to upgrade the quality of leadership in a firm. The quality of leader- ship will drive busi- ness performance both inside and outside the organisation. Organisations with leadership depth will have the capacity to respond to changing business conditions, e x e c u t e s t r a t e g y, increase investor con- fidence, and anticipate and deliver those cus- tomer requirements. Often leadership suc- cess remains inside the company. As a result potential leaders learn from other leaders in the company who have succeeded. The criteria of leader- ship should start with customers. The owners in a firm must define the company’s intended brand and then identify the leadership behav- iours consistent with this exter nal brand. When leaders inside the company behave in line with the expectations of customers and other stakeholders outside the company, the leadership becomes more sustain- able and effective. Also by defining inter- nal leadership through external expectations w i l l s e t more rel- evant and impactful leadership standards. Once lead- e r s h i p standards a r e s e t , l e a d e r s need to be a s s e s s e d o n h o w well they meet those standards. To g e t an exter- nal view, leadership 360s may be expand- ed to 720s where cus- tomers, suppliers, com- munities, regulators, or other external stake- holders may be included in assessing targeted leaders. The board of directors should also regularly assess the CEO’s perfor- mance both inside the company with his team, among his employees and outside the compa- ny with key stakehold- ers. This type of assess- ment of fers a more complete view of lead- ers who have key roles to play with external stakeholders. Assessment also helps to identify high poten- tials and future leaders by looking at the extent to which they have aspi- rations to lead, ability to meet future challeng- es, and agility to learn and grow. It is the responsibility of the board to keep an eye on potential leaders’ ability to serve custom- ers and engage employ- ees to do their best work. Leadership investment The traditional for- mula for leadership investment has been 70-20-10. The logic is that 70% of learning and development is on the job; 20% from feed- back and observation of role models, and only 10% from training. Now it is suggested by Prof. Dave Ulrich, t h e a u t h o r o f t h e ‘Leadership Code,’ that this for mula should shift to something like: 50% of learning from job experience, including mirroring role models, 30% of learning from updated training and 20% of learning from life experience. Most leaders have learnt and learn from experiences outside of work, in families, social settings, social networks, volunteer work, reading, and travelling. When companies can encour- age and access knowl- edge from these life experiences, leaders will broaden their repertoire. For example, many companies now use their CSR efforts as develop- ment opportunities for high potential leaders. This mix of leadership investments in my view is the foundation for a professional approach for development of lead- ership throughout a firm. (The writer is a thought leader in HR.) Introduction So, what is all the fuss about Generation ‘Y’ (those born between 1980 and 1995)? Are they different? Yes. Are they difficult? Different is only difficult when we don’t understand or can’t under- stand what the difference means. As a leader, manager, supervisor, what can you do to increase your effectiveness when motivating and managing Generation ‘Y’? Influence and inspire. As a Gen Y myself, from discussion with my peers, we believe these are the two values Gen Y employees admires most about their leaders. Their leaders must have the ability to empower and excite them towards not only the organisation’s goals but towards personal excellence as well. Many bosses find themselves in leadership positions without ever having consciously made the choice to become a leader, let alone a great leader.  For these bosses to evolve into an exceptional leader for the youth, they first have to step down to the level of the youths. They have to show them that they were exactly where they are when they started and that it is indeed pos- sible to climb up the corporate ladder to reach the position they are in now. Now how exactly does one do so? Here are some practi- cal guidelines: 1. Talk to them Everyone wants to feel important, and what better way to show the importance of your employees then to get to know them on a personal level. Share with them your personal journey about how you’ve reach to the top of the ‘food chain’. Provide them with that sense of belonging that motivated you to stay on with the organisation and it is likely that that same reason would be the rea- son that would make them want to stay on as well. 2. Hang out with them Now, I don’t mean to be weekend hang out buddies, no. There still need to be a boundary between boss and employee. However, have a get together every now and then to show your employees that you care and that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being and their happiness in the organi- sation. Yes, there are retreats and all that usual shenanigans, but you need to show that you are involved. You are interested and involved in the team bonding efforts that go on in the organisa- tion. 3. Be a confidant Everyone loves a listening ear, especially the youths at our day and age. They have the constant perception that the boss is only someone who gives orders and instructions and not to be messed around with. Whilst being firm, offer to be a friend to the employ- ees. Don’t just listen, but hear them out, their problems and what challenges they are facing. Help them understand the reason for some operation procedure and the direction the organisation is heading in the next few years. That way, everyone would be on the same page. Today’s Gen Y is an interesting group of people and a vital one for that matter. Succession planning is crucial and there is always a need to stay relevant, on that note youths are the future of the next generation, thus there is a need to invest significantly in them. Leading and engaging Gen Y at work For the first time in modern history, workplace demographics now span four generations, mean- ing that 20-year-old new hires can find themselves working side-by- side with colleagues who are older than they are by 50 years (or even more). The five generations and their birth years are depicted in Table 1. Gen Y (including in large number of today’s Youths) are also individuals who holds on to grudges, any bad experience with you and they will remember it for a long time, so be careful what you do to them. At the same time, the youth these days make it a point to go above and beyond their call of duty and often produces excep- tional work. All they ask in return is acknowledgement. A simple pat on the back and words of encour- agement does the trick, trust me. Leaders for the youths are scru- tinised pretty intensely at this day and age. They play a vital part in the motivation process of the youth’s professional journey. Leaders with the ability to present themselves well have already won the hearts of the youth. Youths feel that, “If I put in effort to look good and professional, you should too.” Now, I’m not talking about superficiality, I’m talking about looking professionally good. All in all, the ability to connect and gel with the youth is not an easy task. It takes a lot of effort and may be a little time consuming but the results would be tremendous. Good leadership is hard to come by, good leader- ship for the youth, is extra work. However, it would be all worth it when you hand over that office of yours to your predecessor who was once a youth under your wing. T h e ‘ P e t e r Principle; states that in modern organisa- tions, most bosses rise to the level of their least competence, like the specialist (e.g. accountant, engineer, lawyer, etc.) who is so good at their craft that they get promoted to a management posi- tion in ‘charge of people’ without having mastered any real leader- ship skills. And then they bomb. It’s not their fault; they were pro- moted into the position with little or no training or mentoring... it’s sink or swim.  What Gen Y looks for in their leaders? Things are not how they used to be. Employee expectations have definitely changed with regard to work. Leaders can no longer ignore these new expectations nor refuse to adapt their leadership style and methods to deal with these new expectations. In a research report published in Singapore on ‘Gen Y at Work, Their Views and How they are Viewed,’ Gen Y-ers believe that it is most important for their leaders to be caring, inspiring and compe- tent. On the other hand, manag- ers from the Other Generations believe in demonstrating compe- tence, honesty and a forward-look- ing orientation to the Gen Y-ers they lead and manage. The overall pattern of results clearly suggests that there is a gulf between the Gen Y work- force’s expectations, and their managers’ beliefs about how to lead them. The results suggest that Gen Y prefers relationship- oriented leaders, while their man- agers believe in demonstrating a relatively more task-oriented approach to leading them. What makes a great leader in managing Gen Y? In several cases that Centre for Executive Education (CEE) came across in consulting engagements, well intentioned promises of lead- ership development, coaching or mentoring were made to the leader when they were appointed, only to fall by the wayside because more pressing business matters crowded out the hours in the lead- er’s day. Like a captain of a sporting team or a general of an army, leaders need to innovate, inspire, excite or provide a clear vision to others. They hold and believe in a vision and just as importantly, have the self-belief and convic- tion to communicate it to others. Furthermore leaders do not have definitive characteristics. Some inspire and organise, whereas others are strategic or tactical, spot opportunities or protect against disaster. Leadership is a journey of dis- covery. It is the expression of a person at his or her best whose aim is to transform something for the better and to develop this potential in others. It is not a solitary pursuit but one that har- nesses the energy of those around you. A manager can implement pro- cesses, monitor performance, set business goals and objectives and generally take care of the day-to- day needs of their staff. However achieving authentic leadership takes more than textbook man- agement skills. CEE believes that with the rel- evant executive development sup- port, those with leadership poten- tial can be devel- oped into out- standing leaders. No one can argue that a great leader can boost an organisation’s growth and per- formance in much the same way a poor leader can run one into the ground. But what makes a leader effective or inef- fective is a more nebulous concept to pin down. A c c o r d i n g to Jim Kouzes, author of the best-seller ‘The L e a d e r s h i p Challenge,’ the qualities that make an effective leader have two distinct perspec- tives: what follow- ers look for and what research from the past few decades has shown. “There are four things consistently that we have found that people most look for in a leader. Number one, people want a leader who’s honest, trustworthy and has integrity. Second (they want someone) forward-looking, who has a vision of the future, foresight and thinks about the long term. Third, people want a leader who is competent, has expertise, knows what they’re doing, and fourth is inspiring, dynamic, energetic, optimistic and positive about the future.” These still hold true on what Gen Y-ers expects from their leaders. Leadership styles Gen Y is well known for want- ing more flexible work sched- ules. With mobile technology and cloud solutions widely available, resistance to alternative work schedules by Gen X or Boomers Manager is becoming a barrier to progress at the workplace. All managers must get to a similar understanding of why Gen Y looks at flexible work arrange- ments as a given. With globali- sation a force driving corporate strategy, allowing employees to choose to work nights and week- ends over day shifts makes sense. Working from a cafe today and hotel, onsite tomorrow is smart business. Those managers who grew up in corporate-land believing work occurs between 9-5 need to learn to rethink how, where and when work gets done. Gen Y gets this. It’s time that Managers of other gen- eration must do, too. Some people have one style of leadership, which is fine if they can find a situation that requires that style of leadership. Flexible leadership, however, involves being able to adapt your leadership style according to the generational make-up of the team and situation – e.g.: taking charge when a team is forming but play- ing the role of coach when a team is managing itself well. Overall, CEE research suggests that Generation Y is an ambi- tious, impatient and yet tremen- dously promising generation, one that employers must listen to in order to bring fresh ideas and per- spectives to tradi- tional operations. Though success- fully connecting with Generation Y may be challeng- ing at times, the consequences can take employers from good to great, and prepare for an uncertain and rapidly-changing future. Conclusion Leaders today are facing a critical challenge: how to adapt their leader- ship practices and style to get the best out of Generation Y employees. They can’t do so alone. Organisations have a responsibility to help managers understand how workers’ expecta- tions have changed and how they can adapt their leader- ship style to these new conditions. More importantly, organisations needs to provide leaders with the tools and processes which allow leaders to reward and recognise, train and develop, empower gener- ation Y employees more effectively. For Singapore’s budding leaders to compete with the world’s best, managers need to embrace the lat- est techniques of executive devel- opment to enhance their abilities to better manage the Gen Y and soon Gen Z workers. The price of not doing so will create plenty of managers, but very few leaders. Finally, remember: Leadership development is a journey, not something that can be learned on a five-day training course. It requires time, reflection and a high level of self-awareness. [The writer is the Gen Y Business Development Manager of Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global) and is a recent graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Business and Accountancy. CEE Global offers execu- tive coaching and leadership develop- ment programs that help professionals develop the skills and knowledge to embrace change and catalyse suc- cess in their industries. Website: www. Email: adam.bawany@] Generation Y: Are we preparing leaders to deal with this generation of new employees’ expectations? nFrom a Gen Y youth’s perspective Leaders today are facing a critical challenge: how to adapt their leadership practices and style to get the best out of Generation Y employees. They can’t do so alone. Organisations have a responsibility to help managers understand how workers’ expectations have changed and how they can adapt their leadership style to these new conditions. M o r e i m p o r t a n t l y, organisations needs to provide leaders with the tools and processes which allow leaders to reward and recognise, train and develop, empower generation Y employees more effectively Whycompanies mustinvestin leadership Guest Column By Dinesh Weerakkody A n i n d i v i d u a l leader matters, but an organisation’s leadership matters more over time both to shareholders and customers. Therefore, organisations must not only invest to help individual leaders to be more effective through coaching, 360 feedback, and by executing individual development plans, but also must invest to build leadership depth by devoting sufficient time for leadership development Guest Column By Adam Bawany