As we think about how we make authentic leadership impressions with each other, and the teams we lead, many people I talk to have used the same tools throughout their successful career. Recently, I was talking to a great leader, my friend John (it’s actually his real name) and was asking him questions about how he goes about connecting with his broader team as President of his company. John very quickly pointed to some good, solid tools out of his leadership tool belt:
- Manage by walking around. John makes it a point to know each person’s name, and enjoys the personal connection realized by physically walking the floor
- Open door policy. He makes it a point of setting aside certain hours where employees can come into his physical office and talk 1:1
As John’s workforce makeup changes from the Baby Boomer now to the Millennial of tomorrow, will those legacy tools be enough? Will the new workforce be able to relate to John? In short, can John stay relevant as a leader if he doesn’t modernize his tool kit?
In my role as a reverse mentor, I’ve helped executives like John realized that the tools of yesterday, while valuable, might not scale and be relevant to the workforce of the future. By now you should have a solid understanding that the workforce of tomorrow has different needs from leadership than the workforce of yesterday. As a result, leaders must evolve their tools to stay relevant. That’s the wake-up call.
How to “wake-up” in 2015:
- Keep what works, with a twist. Ask your team while walking around or during your open door 1:1 meetings about this and what they would suggest you try.
- Commit to one new and different way to work. Talk about what you are going to try and do differently, and ask for feedback. For example, “I’m going to start a monthly blog to share with the team. Let me know what you think and what others are saying about it.”
- Ask for feedback via a communications survey and personally read all of the responses. This will get you tuned into whether or not your workforce needs are changing in respect to leadership connections.
Recently, I read a blog authored by an executive I have worked with in the past. He had even tweeted the link to it! A couple years ago, blogging and tweeting were nowhere in this leader’s vocabulary. Seeing that leaders are capable of evolving how they engage and inspire their teams was very humbling to me.
He “gets it”. Do you?