Leadership, Not Generational Differences is the Real IssueSo far this year my blog posts with the biggest reader response concerns the nonsense we keep hearing about generational differences. My first post was We Need Less Generational Nonsense and More Leadership. Last month I posted a follow up blog on More on Less Generational Nonsense.

In response to that last blog, Rande Matteson, PhD, posted these observations:

“Although we can find examples from all demographics, overall, the nation is suffering from a serious job perspective. No doubt we have great talent, however, we can’t beat folks up either and we sadly have the wrong people in management and “leadership” positions.

If what all the experts including John Challenger reports are that 80% of our workforce is looking for employment and they want to leave a bad boss, we might say the remaining 20% may be those managers…

It is time for folks to wake up and understand the value of all human capital if you expect the organization to succeed.”

Rande hit the core issue; we do have the wrong people in management roles. Part of this pervasive problem is an abysmal — or non-existent — promotion process that has much less rigor than making a small capital acquisition in most organizations. Little thought or research typically goes into identifying and developing competencies that demarcate poor, ordinary, and extraordinary leadership skills.

People who quit and leave expose just the tiny tip of this very big disengagement iceberg. The huge and hidden problem is the majority of people who quit and stay! It is time for executives to wake up if we’re going to raise innovation, productivity, service, and quality levels to grow our economy.

Once again Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman bring solid research and balanced perspectives to a misunderstood leadership issue. Writing in Training magazine they clearly counter the misperceptions that:

“The “Me” generation is selfish, more concerned than older workers about the flexibility the job offers or the ability for the job to support their social life and their personal goals. We think of them as entitled and not as willing to yield to the needs of the organization as their parents and grandparents were.”

Jack and Joe report on their research drawing from an extensive database on leadership practices to conclude:

  • Gen Y leaders are every bit as focused on driving for results as their older counterparts.
  • Likewise, they’re equally focused on meeting the needs of the organization.
  • They exhibit cooperation.
  • They welcome collaboration.
  • They are enthusiastic.
  • They are inspiring.
  • They are willing to innovate and to improve on ideas.
  • They are generally good at resolving conflict.
  • They have a desire to market programs, and also a desire and a willingness to market themselves, as opposed to feeling like their work should speak for itself.

The biggest surprise of all? They welcome feedback. In fact, they actively seek it. Not only do they seek feedback from their superiors, they seek it from their co-workers and from their employees as well.

Our Gen Y leaders score better than their older counterparts (ranking 60 percent or higher) on all of these fronts.

Go to Managing the “Me” Generation: It may not mean what you think to read their insightful article.

Younger workers are more mobile and less willing to work for a weak leader. We need much less excusing and accusing and much more leadership – for all generations.