In the recent years many people have written articles and even books on the new generation of employees entering the workplace, Generation Y. This new generation of employees has very different values and expectations than previous generations we have seen. The young business professionals of this generation are characterized as being very technology savvy, wanting information and results immediately, are money driven, have a sense of entitlement and are very diverse. They value rapid career growth, learning, work/life balance and corporate social responsibility. They are entering a workplace that is multi-generational, sharing their workspaces and competing for jobs with veterans, boomers and X generations that have traditionally valued and expected very different things in the workplace. The difference between generations got me thinking and proposed many questions. Are companies changing their leadership models to adapt to this new generation of employees, or do company’s models always stay the same? Do the same theories that we have been discussing in our class hold true today for leaders dealing with followers in Generation Y? How do leaders remain effective in this new rapidly changing and diverse workplace?
After reading through some articles (sited below) and a few websites (shrm.org & businessweek.com) a few common recommendations came up for leaders of Generation Y employees. Some of the recommendations included, being flexible and adaptable in ones leadership style and being aware of what factors motivate each generation, using these to be able to motivate followers to produce desired results. They also recommend that leadership should promote a heavy concentration on building communication skills and be able to demonstrate authenticity in their leadership.
These recommendations for a model of leadership in this new generation of employees started to look very similar to the models we having been discussing throughout the semester. Reflecting on these recommendations, they touch on understanding leadership from a communication standpoint (Burns, Hackman & Johnson, Bernard, Gardner). They touch on theorist points of leadership as being able to motivate followers to achieve goals and being able to focus on individual development (McGregor, Stogdill, Gardner, Burns, Zaleznik). They also reflect on authenticity in theories that we have discussed such as in servant leadership (Greenleaf) and transformational leadership (Burns). Lastly, they are touching on the flexibility in leadership by leadership depending on the situation and/or context (Heifitz, Cronin, Goleman).
Therefore, do you think that ones model of leadership should or needs to change when dealing with different generations of people? How are companies training Generation Y to be the next generation of leaders? Will this look different then what they have done for previous leaders due to the Generation Y’s values and expectations? And lastly, what are the implications for Generation Z and future generations to come? What can leaders take away from Generation Y to help prepare themselves for future generations?
Smith, S. (2005/2006). Employers and the New Generation of Employees. Community College Journal, 76(3), 9-13.
Wagner, D. (2007). Managing an Age-Diverse Workplace. MIT Sloan Management Review, 48(4), 8-10.
Weinstein, M. (2009). Next-Generation Leaders. Training, 46(4), 17-19.