According to business researcher and best-selling author, Jim Collins (pictured above), young people can offer leaders a gift. It’s just a matter of minding your Ys and Zs.
Gen Ys and Zs in the workforce cop some flak for being demanding, for questioning everything and for their so-called disrespectful attitudes. But Jim Collins has another view.
“To me, it’s that the younger generations are demanding that we be great leaders, and I don’t think that’s all bad,” he says.
“For example, one of the things you hear from younger folks is that; ‘We have to understand why we’re asked to do certain things; why this is important’. My response is that the best leaders have always done a superb job at helping people understand why things are important.”
Collins says this was 10, 50, 100 and even 1000 years ago. What’s different is that younger generations are demanding that all of those in positions of power actually lead, rather than merely exercise power.
“Power is: ‘I get you to do stuff, I don’t have to tell you why’. Power is: ‘I get you to do stuff you wouldn’t do on your own’. Power is: ‘I use power, I use position, I use rank, I use title’.”
But none of that is leadership, and is in fact irrelevant to leadership.
“Leadership is getting people to want to do what must be done, and doing it even if they have 100 per cent freedom to do otherwise. So what our young people are basically demanding is that we lead in a way that we provide them such a compelling set of reasons that they say: ‘I get it, I’m in! I see why this is important’.”
Collins says this makes the difference between what’s rare and what’s new. It’s not new that exceptional leaders would do that – it was just rare.
“Young people are demanding that it no longer be rare, and that’s great. They’re challenging us,” he says.
“Instead of thinking of it as: ‘They’re a pain to deal with’, how about we flip it around and say: ‘We’re a pain to deal with. How can the challenge of these young people make us better?’ They’re a gift!”
Jim Collins will be speaking at Growth Summit in Melbourne and Sydney.