Many organizations are struggling to make leadership roles attractive to a generation that looks at their bleary-eyed, overworked bosses and thinks, “I don’t want to sign up for that,” says Executive Coach Rick Lash, a senior client partner with the Korn Ferry Hay Group.
Millennials and other workers are seeking to maintain their work/life balance, leaving many unwilling to make the sacrifices traditional leadership roles often demand, Lash notes in his Nov. 21 column for Canadian newspaper “The Globe and Mail.” That means the traditional, hierarchical model of leadership needs to change.
The traditional organization is structured and hierarchical, with the boss at the top getting work done through subordinates. But a modern organization operates more like a networked brain, Lash says, with multiple connection points where information and action is distributed across the system. The team shares responsibilities, and each member brings their own knowledge and capabilities to play. People identity with the team, not the boss.
How can companies make the transition?
- Redefine leadership: Remember that leadership is not one size fits all. Replace the old model of leadership with one that reflects today’s business reality of nimbleness, customer responsiveness and continuous change. Leadership is not measured by how many people report to you, he notes. Successful leaders are authentic, take an interest in coaching others and have the ability to act as strong facilitators.
- Provide early exposure: Make the work of leadership more attractive by showing young people what it looks like, Lash says. Consider giving student interns significant responsibilities from the start. Allow them to attend meetings and interact with senior leadership. Make sure they are continually coached and mentored.
- Make purpose the heart of leadership: People want to know that their work makes a difference beyond just the bottom line. Purpose-driven organizations—like Tom’s Shoes, Kind and a growing host of others—are winning in the market because they attract people who see their own values reflected. Leadership at its core is about helping others see how their work contributes to the greater good.
See the full column: “The Changing Model of Leadership.”