Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Now Is the Time for Gen Y Leaders

ARCHIVES
PhotoXpress

Here’s a thought experiment for you. Take a deep breath, clear your head and think for a little while about what kind of leadership the world is going to need in the future. Need a jump start? Just think about the rapidity of change in the global economy, global politics and consumer technology in the past five years. Five years ago, most major economic trend lines were up and to the right. There were more entrenched autocrats in power in the Middle East than there are today. The iPad hadn’t been invented yet. A Harvard dropout named Mark Zuckerberg had just started Facebook. Tweeting was something that birds did.

If change continues at its current rate, let alone accelerates, leadership is going to get a lot more complex. It’s going to be less and less about authority and more and more about influence. It’s going to be less about solid lines and more about dotted or maybe no lines at all. Global collaboration will rule because cycle times will demand it and technology will continue to enable it.

Where will we find leaders who can thrive in this environment? One place we should look is to the digital natives. Also known as Generation Y, these are the folks who have been connected their entire lives.

As I wrote on my blog earlier this year, people over 40 more or less grew up in the command and control model of leadership. For instance, I learned a lot about leadership in the Boy Scouts, where you move from assistant patrol leader to patrol leader to assistant senior patrol leader to senior patrol leader. The chain of command is very clear. It’s a lot like the traditional org chart you still see in lots of organizations. Information flows down more easily than it flows up.

People of my sons’ generation (they’re 18 and 22) have grown up using technology to connect and collaborate with others to get stuff done. For instance, my 22 year old, Andy, used to spend a lot of time in middle school and high school playing a massive, multi-player online game called Planet Side. It used to drive me crazy, to be honest. Now, I realize he was learning leadership skills by playing the game. Planet Side involved organizing players around the world to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to achieve the same goal at the same time. As a 14 year old, Andy was influencing older people to join his team, share ideas and win the game together.

Last year, I saw that virtual leadership style play out in the physical world when he helped organize almost 1,000 students at James Madison University to participate in a day of service.

We hear a lot about Gen Y being the generation of entitled kids who grew up in the age of “everybody gets a trophy.” That’s not what I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is a group that has some serious chops for getting things done in a new world. I’ve been talking with companies lately who see the same thing They’re designing leadership development programs that mix leaders from across generations so they can learn from each other’s strengths.

Makes sense to me. What do you think?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.