In a constantly evolving work environment, it is essential to understand the expectations of the new generations in relation to leadership. The traditional leadership style, marked by rigid control, inflexible hierarchy and centralisation of power, no longer meets the needs and values of emerging generations. Adaptation is key to retaining talent and driving organisational success.
In this article, we explore what new generations expect from leadership and the crucial competences for today's leaders. We understand that different leaders are needed for different organisations and projects, depending on external factors such as the industry, the identity of the organisation, the maturity of the company and the project. In addition, we discuss the importance of mobility in leadership, enabling leaders to adjust to ever-changing needs.
Recognising that turnover is a reality in today's world, we highlight the need to focus more on knowledge retention and that organisations should promote knowledge sharing and establish succession plans.
We also share the eight essential skills in today's leaders highlighted at Global Talent Day 2023, from self-awareness and emotional intelligence to the ability to inspire and empower. Modern leadership requires a balance between understanding the needs of new generations and developing leaders who can inspire, innovate and lead their teams to success.
· Lead The Next Generation
· What Leadership Skills Make a Great Leader?
· Different leaders for different organisations and projects
· Leadership Mobility
· Greater Focus on Retaining Knowledge vs Retaining People
· 5 Strategies for Greater Focus on Knowledge Retention
· 8 Key Leadership Skills
Lead The Next Generation
What do the new generations expect from leadership? Today we know that the outdated leadership style of control (characterised by rigid hierarchy, lack of autonomy and centralisation of power) must be adapted to the new generations. This adaptation doesn't mean giving up all established leadership practices, but rather incorporating more modern and effective approaches that align with the needs and values of the new generations entering the labour market. This not only helps retain talent, but also drives innovation and organisational success. Younger generations, such as Generation Y (Millennials) and Generation Z, tend to value collaboration, flexibility, transparency, and autonomy. These are generations that have grown up in a highly connected and digital world, so they are used to accessing information and communicating instantly.
What Leadership Skills Make a Great Leader?
Different leaders for different organisations and projects
Sofia Bué Alves, Senior Director People Development and Experience at Outsystems, emphasised at Global Talent Day 2023 that the skills needed to be a good leader are not universal. The competences that contribute to the success of leaders depend essentially on four external factors:
- The industry:
- In industries that are constantly changing (such as technology), leaders need to be innovative, future-orientated and able to make quick decisions. In the industrial sector, for example, skills such as operational efficiency and logistics management can be key. In the financial sector, risk management and an understanding of regulations are critical skills for leaders.
- Organisational Identity and Culture:
- Innovative Company: In this context, leaders need to be creative, able to promote innovation and navigate uncertainty.
- Customer-orientated company: Empathy, the ability to understand customer needs and build relationships are key competences.
- High Performance Culture: Leaders must emphasise excellence, set ambitious goals and encourage talent development.
- Culture of Collaboration: The ability to work as a team, listen and facilitate co-operation is essential.
- The company's stage of maturity:
- Startups: Startups are agile, innovative and often fast-growing organisations, and leaders play a crucial role in their journey to success. In the high-risk, fast-growing environment typical of startups, leaders must be agile, innovative and able to deal with uncertainty.
- Established companies: In mature organisations, the ability to manage large teams, optimise operations and maintain stability can be more critical.
- The project's stage of maturity:
- Innovation projects: these projects call for creative and risk taker leaders who listen to their teams.
- Change Management Projects: To lead a change management project you need to have skills in Effective Communication; Emotional Intelligence; Influencing Capacity and Stakeholder Management.
- International Expansion Projects: Global leadership requires intercultural competences and the ability to adapt strategies to different markets.
Bearing in mind that different types of leadership are best suited to different stages of company or project maturity, it is important to create mobility within the company where the leader is needed.
Mobile leadership is based on flexibility and allows leaders to adjust to the needs of their teams and organisations that are constantly evolving. This includes the ability to change strategies and approaches as new circumstances arise, which is fundamental for organisations to thrive in a dynamic and ever-changing business environment.
In the current and future labour context, where new generations are looking to gain experience and develop new skills, promoting the internal mobility of people and leaders can prove to be an important strategy for retaining talent.
Greater Focus on Retaining Knowledge vs Retaining People
Talent retention is a common concern for companies, especially in highly competitive sectors. High turnover rates are costly, jeopardise operational continuity and affect company culture. For these reasons, organisations make it a priority to invest in people retention.
While retaining talent and skills is important, the ability to retain and pass on critical knowledge can be just as crucial.
Organisations have to adapt to the current and future context and understand that in the global world we live in, turnover is a reality of the present and future and not just a passing trend.
"We have to accept that there is no such thing as a job for life any more" - argued Gonçalo Santos, Human Resources Director Iberia, Sugal Group, at Global Talent Day 2023.
Focusing exclusively on people retention can lead to a potential neglect of knowledge retention.
5 Strategies for Greater Focus on Knowledge Retention
For an organisation to maintain a healthy balance between retaining knowledge and retaining people, it must adopt the following strategies:
- Documentation and Good Practices: Encourage the documentation of processes and good practices throughout the organisation. This creates a repository of knowledge accessible to all.
- Mentoring and internal training programmes: Establish mentoring programmes to encourage the transfer of knowledge between senior and junior employees.
- Knowledge Management Systems: Implement knowledge management systems that facilitate the efficient storage, search and sharing of information within the organisation.
- Culture of Learning: Promoting a culture of continuous learning, where the acquisition and transmission of knowledge is valued and encouraged.
- Planned Succession: Identifying and developing succession leaders to ensure a smooth transition when key employees retire or leave the organisation.
While talent retention is essential to an organisation's success, knowledge retention should not be neglected. The ability to preserve and pass on critical knowledge can be a significant competitive differentiator. Therefore, a balanced approach that values both people and knowledge is essential for the success of any organisation.
8 Key Leadership Skills
There are many characteristics that combined together make a great leader. These are the 8 skills highlighted at Global Talent Day 2023:
- Self-awareness and Emotional Intelligence: Self-awareness is the first step for an effective leader. Knowing yourself, your emotions and how they affect others is crucial. Emotional intelligence allows leaders to manage their own emotions and understand the emotions of others, creating more positive and productive relationships.
- Effective Communication: Effective communication is the backbone of leadership. Leaders must be able to express themselves clearly and listen actively. Communicating vision, values and expectations is essential for aligning the team and promoting co-operation.
- Shared Future Vision and Alignment: Leaders must develop and communicate an inspiring vision of the future. In addition, they must align the team around this vision, ensuring that everyone shares a common understanding of the organisation's goals and values.
- Developing the Team: Effective leaders invest in the growth and development of their teams. They identify the potential of team members, provide guidance, training and growth opportunities, empowering employees to reach their full potential.
- Good judgement: Informed decision-making is a crucial skill. Leaders must be able to analyse information, consider alternatives and make thoughtful decisions that benefit the organisation and the team.
- Empathy: Empathetic leaders create stronger relationships, resolve conflicts effectively and show genuine concern for the well-being of their employees.
- Inspiration: Inspiring leaders motivate their teams to give their best and achieve their best performance.
- Autonomy: Leaders who grant autonomy give the team the freedom and responsibility to make decisions and carry out their work independently. This promotes trust, responsibility and innovation.
These characteristics not only enable leaders to lead successfully, but also promote the growth and well-being of the team. Remember: Grow as a person, inspire as a leader.