Who Should Adjust to Who?
February 3, 2019
The problem with many leaders is that they believe their subordinates need to adjust to them. The boss has the title, the power, the authority to make everyone adapt to their way; the “My way or the highway” mentality is a lousy way to lead people.
For a leader to be successful today, they need to be agile and flexible while making relevant adjustments to their current way of doing business. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, better none as Coach K, is the winningest Division I basketball coach of all time. He is also a master at dealing with the younger generation. Coach K states, “it is the leader who needs to make adjustments, be willing to learn what works best for the players and adjust.” He went on to say, “if you believe what you have done in the past is the only way to do it with a new group of players, time will prove you wrong. So, you should want to be in a constant state of making adjustments.”
But, many of you bosses out there, are thinking that “Millennials” are a different breed from past generations. Past generations of bosses never had to deal with such a tough group. REALLY? Let me ask you this … when was the following quote said: “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words.” When was this said: 2018, 2000, 1960’s, 50’s, 30’s, the Civil War? Hesiod, the Greek poet, said it in the 8th Century, B.C. You probably missed the answer to that one. Let’s see how you do with this one. “Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers.” Was it said by Dr. Phil, Michelle Obama, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Dr. Oz, or possibly Dear Abbey? How about none of the them. It was said by Socrates, who lived from 470 – 399 B.C. You see, we have been complaining about the NEXT generation For Centuries.
Generational expert, Jennifer J. Deal, who wrote the book, Retiring the Generation Gap, conducted a 7-year study involving over 3,000 leaders and discovered some profound information. Her most important deduction from her study was this: “Generations now of working age value essentially the same things.” The following chart shows the percentage of respondents who placed each of these values in their Top 10.
If we all want the same thing, why do we have such a problem understanding and working with each other? I believe novelist, George Orwell, said it best when he stated: “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” Having a superior attitude is no way to start any relationship, especially with someone from a different age group than yours. Coach K suggests you get to know those you are leading and communicate in a way THEY UNDERSTAND. Millennials hate long meetings and learn faster with visuals. They respond fast to texts and are not fond of phone calls. They appreciate recognition, instant corrections and support, but they are not fond of criticism and definitely hate annual reviews. (most people do)
By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. 55% of millennials say they are least likely to get along with someone from another generation; the main reason is lack of trust. Leaders aren’t good because they are right. They are good because they are willing to learn, create trust and adapt. Leaders are good because they are willing to change FIRST.
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