What is business experiencing now? So what are the skills that will be needed in the future to be a great manager? I think the better question would be to address what are the followers like in the future. It is not so much that leadership and management have really changed. The principles and philosophies are solid. Maslow's hierarchy of need are still relevant. Taylor's scientific management practices, Douglas McGregors management and motivation theories, and a host of other are just as applicable today as they were 20 or even 50 years ago.
However, the people who are following those leaders have changed. I observing the four generations now desperately seek coexistence, it is amazing that workplace violence is as low as it is. Traditionalists make up 1% of our labor force. Boomers make up 22% of our workforce. Gen-Xers comprise 34% and Millenials make up 43%. This is where we are currently at. This means that most of our top leaders are still Boomers and our followers are a mix of some boomers, Xers, and Millennials. As Boomers exercise their exit strategies and many of them have in the last 2 years, Xers and Millennials are poised to take the lead. The Millennials are where it gets really interesting though. This generation experienced a marketing shift at an early age. Marketing gurus with their infinite wisdom, drive, and determination discovered that guilt ridden parents with too little time would do anything to shut up, I mean pacify, their little darlings. What that means is that kids began to drive the buying decisions instead of parents.
This was a monumental shift in mentality resulting in a generation that by and large expects to be marketed and catered to. Sooooo, when they get a job, they want you to woo them and impress them with what your company has to offer. Having grown up in daycares, they are social creatures by nature. They seek out environments where those ingrained values and behaviors can be met, and/or exceeded. Gone are the days of potential employees saying, "Just give me a chance to prove myself and I will not let you down." All of this is to say that we cannot manage this generation the way we have managed others if we want to get the same level or higher productivity from them. We have to adapt. They will not. They never have had to, so why start now? ;)
Who is packing your parachute? I am only successful as the people who back me up. Each of us succeeds because our greatest assets, our people, take the time to make us look good. This story is so good that I wanted to share it with you.
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now gives speeches on the lessons learned from that experience! However, Plumb was to learn even more from something that happened many years later.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!" "How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"
Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. He wondered how many times he might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, he was a hotshot fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
Now, I ask myself "Who's packing my parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. We daily need many kinds of parachutes when our "plane" gets shot down over enemy territory -- we need our physical parachute, our mental parachute, our emotional parachute, and our spiritual parachute. We call on all these supports before reaching safety. Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.
I have no doubt that you are great at what you do. Just remember that it is the people who hold us up that make us great!