I know I have been going back and forth between various topics lately. My pronouns, podcasts, my journey to health, etc. But my head is fueled with thoughts and idea and this post is no different. In addition to everything else, I’d like to talk today about something I am extremely interested in: Being whole, leading younger generations and how, for younger people, the boundaries between work, personal and public life don’t exist anymore.
Skrevet af Laurence Paquette, Director, Head of Digital Marketing and Channel Management, Vestas
But what do I mean? An easy example of what I mean can be AOC (the democrat congresswoman in the US) who published a tweet last year announcing how she made it to level Silver III in League of Legends (see here: https://www.pcgamesn.com/league-of-legends/josh-harder-aoc ).
AOC’s tweet on League of Legends
But why this example and how does this all relate? Before the rise of social media, leaders, politicians, celebrities mentioned their hobbies (such as gaming) in magazine or television interviews. Their answers were polished and they didn’t have the possibility to stream, day by day, what they do. Now, people like AOC use Social Media to bring forward political debate, challenge other politicians and also casually share their gaming accomplishments. The boundaries between their work life, personal life and public life have been reduced to a minimum level never achieved before. This is the world our kids live in and as the younger generations join the workforce, they expect work to be part of their life, part of their playground and they expect to be able to be themselves at work, at home and all-around.
I live in Denmark and when I look at large Danish companies, I really don’t believe they are ready for the younger generations to enter the workforce and join their organisations. These organisations’ culture, executive management and HR department are not ready to cater to these younger employees. The organisations expect their employees to be polished, wear the part (mostly a suit), focus on performance, deliverables and not bring their personal life to the office. But the kids won’t fit in and this will be a problem for these large organisations. They need to be ready to lead and manage the next generation, a generation who will replace the suit with t-shirt and hoodies as they do in Silicon Valley, wear fancy sneakers instead of italian shoes and post on their Social Media work related content, hobby related content and political opinions. Are countries in Europe like Denmark and their large companies ready for managing such people. Are they ready to accept that their dress code has expired, that younger people want a voice and that they want to be managed by humans who can be emotional and personal just like them? Are large organisations ready to promote and train a new style of leaders who focus on people management in a new way, with inclusion, care and purpose. Are large Danish corporations ready for VPs wearing hoodies at customer meetings? Are the boards and their chairmans ready to discuss with younger generations hobbies, gaming habits and are they ready to stop making the sexist jokes. These companies are not ready for the change and worse, they don’t see it coming at all. They have not realized that young kids don’t strive on performance as older generations might have had to, they strive on purpose, belonging and they want a fulfilling life in and outside work.
Soon, there will be other people than me, the most underdressed Director in the company I work for, coming to work wearing Star Wars t-shirts. Soon, we will need other leaders open to have all their employees follow them on Instagram and open to post stories about their children, their hobbies and their weekend adventures. Younger generation will expect their manager to be human and to share who they are with them, both online and offline. Are we ready for this? Are managers and organisations trained and prepared for leading generation Z? Are we teaching HR, leaders and managers how to be both personal and professional, how to engage and connect with employees that will seek such leadership style?
Being whole, being personal and professional is possible, but most managers I know are only professional and they will struggle with the new generation who wants to wear a self-knitted shirt at work and who expect their boss to share what book they are reading, what show they are watching and what game they are playing. How do we prepare the European and Danish large corporations for the next generation of our workforce?
Personally, I’d love to tackle that problem! It’s close to my heart as I am a firm believer of the personal-professional leadership style! I am the same me everywhere and my team appreciates it. I connect with my employees, I care about them and together we are striving towards a better future. But how do I help other managers, other leaders and other companies get ready for the next generation?
I’d love to hear your opinion on this matter.
Kilde: THE LOGBOOK