Guest post by Aaron Yeak
The demands placed upon leaders and managers are constantly evolving – challenges faced yesterday are different to today and will be different again tomorrow.
With this in mind, how do we train and equip our leaders of tomorrow to be well prepared? Is it enough to be extremely competent in our job functions and roles – what happens when the functions and roles evolve?
Into the unknown
To fully appreciate the ever-changing nature of the workplace, you simply need to stop and consider those jobs we take for granted, which actually haven’t been around for that long – App Designer, Social Media Manager, Cloud Computing Services Technician. The list goes on.
Now consider what jobs might be around in the next 10 years that do not exist right now – what about an “Ecosystem Advocate”, a “Nutrient Banker”, or a “Climate Change Adaptability Agent”?2
“65 percent of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be created”1.
But it’s not just the job landscape that is constantly evolving – geographical boundaries continue to expand. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, our youngest and brightest transact and transcend borders, working across time zones, cultures and job functions.
As I went for a run the other day, a fellow jogger staggered past me and a thought crossed my mind – just what is her job? She could be a local business owner, she could be the CEO of a multinational company spanning 15 countries, she might be involved in Social Enterprise work in Africa, or she might be training for a marathon, I had no idea.
And that was exactly the point. It is more common now than ever for organisations and individuals to be managing teams on the other side of the globe, have clients that you never meet in person, or to start your week in Stockholm, head to Istanbul and finish in Australia. Conversely you could do that same trip virtually from your living room before going for that jog.
Is Gen Y different?
There is a perception that Gen Y is tech savvy and comfortable with modern technology. I like to think of it more as a level of comfort with the unknown. It is less about having all the answers there and then and more about the confidence to take on the unfamiliar.
Coupled with a learning attitude to “figure it out” and a problem solving ability, this makes for a powerful mix. Perhaps the confidence is sometimes interpreted as arrogance but this learning attitude I believe is more important in tomorrow’s world than traditional functional competence.
Don’t get me wrong, core ability is critical, in fact it is the base from which to build from. Additional to that is the requirement to keep learning.
So perhaps when we recruit and train we need to go beyond job titles and functions in a person’s past and put more emphasis on their ability to adapt, problem solve and their level of comfort with the unknown of tomorrow.
This is not a generational discriminant thought. Look back through history – good individuals and consequently good organisations keep learning and adapting with the unknown. Think of the best people and organisations you know, they don’t sit still for very long do they?
What do you think? How do you cope with a constantly evolving work place? What leadership and management skills or tools do you use to ensure the people around you are always improving?
Aaron Yeak is a member of the 2014 AIM30 and has a particular interest in the issues facing Gen Y managers. With experience both locally and internationally in the sport, recreation and Formula 1 industries, he is interested in change management, business strategy, managing in an interconnected world and Gen Y leadership. Aaron enjoys working in diverse teams from across the globe, travelling, taking in the perspective of others, seizing opportunities and good coffee.
You can follow Aaron on Twitter: @AzYeak