Who are our future leaders?

Developing future leaders is our focus at Ivy House. But who are they? Is there a ‘they ’at all?

At our first Ivy House annual lecture, generations expert and historian Dr Eliza Filby spoke of the differences in a multi-generational workforce that employers should be aware of.

Our experience of working with millennials (born 81-96) and Generation Z (born 97-2010) show they want both money and meaning. They want to be able to afford a house, and they want to do it in a way that is aligned with their values.

Eliza enlightened the audience with her research into the differences between Millennials and Generation Z.

Millennials are the most educated generation ever with over 50% worldwide holding a first degree and over 30% with a second degree.

That doesn’t mean that, like their baby boomer parents, they see education as over with when they finish their degrees. Instead, they see it as an ongoing part of their lives. This the first generation that can access lectures from the best universities online.

Millennials, Eliza told us, are a generation who have developed their own brand from age 13 and see themselves as commentators on what is going on.

Generation Z, on the other hand, are broadcasters and publishers. It’s all about video for them. While Millennials accessed data without much thought, Generation Z are serious about data protection. 

While the former focused on physical health, the latter feel they need to be more aware of their mental health.

Eliza said these generations are looking at 65 years of working. Which is why they are not fazed by a year off travelling, a few years back living at home with mum and dad or a year out to spend caring for family – both young and old.

Workplaces can no longer focus on employees having a three-stage life (education, work, retirement). Jobs for life have gone and the future work landscape is likely to be dominated by shorter periods of work, greater flexibility, far more self-employment and a career split into 4 or 5 definite job roles and multiple careers.

What was also clear is that younger generations expect to be heard, to make suggestions, to contribute and to make a difference. And, if their organisations don’t allow them to do this, they will leave, seeing it as clear evidence that they are not valued.

Through her talk, Eliza outlined a different path for the future in terms of how organisations engage with their employees. At Ivy House we are focused on creating a different path for leadership.

There is no doubt that we are currently in the midst of a leadership crisis but it doesn’t need to be this way. We need to turn traditional leadership development on its head by starting far sooner and instead of ‘pushing’ an organisation’s values and ‘leadership behaviours’ onto an individual, help them first discover who they are and what matters to them so that they can align to the organisation. On top of this, we need to recognise that a life time of focusing in on subject matter expertise needs to change. The future requires different skills – human skills based on relationship, communication, trust, authenticity, collaboration and creativity. More than anything there needs to be humanity in the system.

As robots take over jobs, we need to focus on the things only humans can do. Not just in the future but today. For the benefit of every generation.

By Elke Edwards, Ivy House
2nd May 2019

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