This is Part 5 in a series about leadership coaching.
There is no magic formula that will make generational shifts in leadership seamless, but a few simple steps can pave the way. These include having productive discussions about generational differences and similarities, providing feedback in the form of coaching, and making a serious commitment to developing emerging leaders.
Although much has been said about the generation gap in organizations, a growing body of research is focusing on the similar values these generations hold. In a recent seven year study of multi-generational work habits and attitudes in both for profit and not for profit organizations, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that workers of all generations want essentially the same things from their jobs: to trust their supervisors, be paid well, have interesting work, get feedback, and have the opportunity to learn and do better. Feedback in the form of coaching was a key form of support people of all generations desired. Coaching is one of the best methods for helping employees learn and improve because learning is individualized, targeted and reinforced [i].
In addition to coaching, Frances Kunreuther, co-author of Working Across Generations, offers simple, cost effective ways to encourage the development of the next generation of leaders [ii]:
- Build multi-generational leadership teams, acknowledge differences based on age (and other issues) and explore how these differences can be used to make meaningful decisions.
- Ask younger leaders to accompany older leaders to external meetings and be clear about their roles. In some cases younger leaders may participate, while in other situations they may mainly observe and learn. Debrief the meetings afterward.
- Allow next generation leaders to interact with executive teams and board members. This can be done through presenting issues at meetings, staffing a committee, or working one on one on a particular issue or project.
In an increasingly challenging economic environment, developing the capabilities of all generations in the workplace is essential. Paving the way for the next generation of leadership is a key tool for nonprofits to survive and even thrive. Doing so brings opportunities for new ideas and fresh energy to effectively challenge the status quo.