Feb 202014

Many of us who lead learned our leadership skills in the last century. We looked to leaders whose achievements we admired and learned the leadership skills they used and built our own leadership based on them.

That approach worked well until about twenty years ago. In the mid-‘90s phrases like “the new leadership” began to enter the leadership conversation. About ten years ago we began to hear about the Millennials entering the workforce. The Millennials brought with them a set of values that were new to the work place. How to manage them and lead them become topics of discussion.

Here is a list of six skills that have been found effective in leading younger workers and developing them into the leaders we need for the future. If you’re not at least thinking about these skills and how to acquire and apply them, you’re probably thinking about why your leadership success seems to have faded as you work with a younger constituency.

  1. Creativity. This word scares a lot of people because it sounds like they have to invent something. Creativity is not just about invention. It can also apply to innovation—thinking of new ways to do things.
  2. Critical Thinking. Critical thinking begins with taking “self” (as in self-interest or egotism) out of the process. Not all great ideas have to be your ideas.
  3. Collaboration. The emerging generations place a lot of value on working together. This is not about extroversion but rather about incorporating the best from everyone into the end result (the “product”). “The process” has become as important as “the product.”
  4. Communication. Someone once said it’s impossible to over-communicate if the communication is important. When you’re weary of repeating yourself for the hundredth time, suck it up and go for the 101st time. Be consistent, but not boring. Bring Creativity (innovation) into the communication process. Find new ways to say things without changing the message.
  5. Consensus Building. No longer can decisions be implemented based on “because I’m the boss.” Implementation begins with exploration (if the decision hasn’t been reached yet) or explanation (if the decision has already been made). The goal is “buy-in” rather than just acceptance or acquiescence.
  6. Courage. Courage in two areas in particular. Courage to admit when you’re wrong or when mistakes have been made and courage to act based on confidence rather than insisting on certainty. The new workforce wants to take risks, but not foolish risks. Waiting for certainty (as if certainty is ever truly possible) results in everything stalling, boredom setting in, and de-motivation occurring.

These are the skills useful for leadership in the 21st century. Do you have them? If not, how will you develop them? Can having a coach help? Give me a call or shoot me an email if you want to explore that option.



 Posted by at 6:44 am