A Gen Y Definition of Leadership
I was surprised (and more than somewhat honored) when I was asked to participate in this blog. After all, I’m in fantastic company… what could I possibly contribute that adds value? And then it hit me: I can offer insight into the leader I hope to be in the near future.
Gen Y is the next generation of leaders, and we bring with us a fresh outlook on leadership. So, I’ll focus on my desired leadership style, the rationale behind it, and the implications to companies big and small – after all, I’m probably not the only one who thinks the way I do!
I’ve had the opportunity to serve under a wide variety of leadership styles, and each of them has provided a valuable opportunity shape my definition of an ideal leader. I’ll summarize the leader I hope to be through the following five traits:
Be open and honest with communication and feedback
There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by unanticipated constructive feedback during your annual review… except maybe seeing a project derailed because of a simple communication breakdown.
On the flipside, I’ve seen the benefits of real-time feedback and ongoing communication: problems get fixed faster, and annual or semi-annual reviews aren’t nearly as stressful. This is just as true for leaders – I want my team to speak up when problems need fixing, without fear of retribution. After all, the purpose of feedback is to help the team perform more effectively!
Work hard, play hard
Odds are the people you work with are some of the people you see most often in your life. It’s natural to become friends with those with whom you work most closely. Some of the most cohesive teams I know of consistently get together as a group outside work.
I’m a firm believer that a team that celebrates together not only stays together, but engages in more healthy forms of debate, and is more productive. This is especially true where Gen Y is involved.
Gen Y is the next generation of leaders, and we bring with us a fresh outlook on leadership.
Give and demand excellence
If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to the very best of your ability. That’s the way I operate, and that’s the way I would expect my team to operate. I aim to create a culture of performance, where sandbagging is unforgivable and going the extra mile is standard. The celebrating that comes from a victory hard-fought and hard-won is infinitely satisfying, and it forms a virtuous cycle of ongoing improvement.
Hold myself accountable
I believe it’s a leader’s duty to take responsibility for their team, for better or worse. If my team fails, it’s because I’ve failed them in some way. It’s my job to make sure it never happens again. Likewise, if my team is unfairly attacked, it’s my job to defend them.
Be flexible in holding my team accountable
I don’t buy into the concept of “presenteeism” – that a person’s work ethic should be judged on how many hours they put in. In my experience, it encourages people to slow down their pace of work to fit exactly into the required hours. I’d rather let my employees leave early if their work is done one day, if this meant I could count on them to stay late other days when things are busier.
Be open to taking risks
Events change so quickly in today’s economy. Any company that requires its employees to be 100% sure before proceeding with an idea will quickly be left in the dust of others who took action earlier. If an idea seems well thought-out and rational, I never want to be the one holding it back.
Now, if you read all of this and scoffed, then I wish you luck as you descend into irrelevance. If, however, you’re reading this, wondering how it will affect your organization, you may want to consider the following:
- How do my company’s programs support Gen Y in leadership roles?
- What is likely to become redundant or obsolete?
- What frustrations might Gen Y leaders face, and can anything be done to alleviate them?
- What are the implications of changing nothing?
- How will newer leadership styles mesh with more traditional styles? What might be the impact on employees transitioning from a traditional-style manager to a Gen Y?
I urge you to consider the above. Preparing your organization for the changing of the guard might be the competitive advantage that sets you apart.
Continue reading our New Leadership series with Appreciating Diversity and Differences Builds Effective Teams
Art by: Azureluck