Mentoring the New Wave of Leaders

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Emerging Leadership: Mentoring the New Wave of GenX & Millennial Leaders

This article seeks to reveal harmful and helpful leadership styles so that the new wave of GenX and Millennial leaders may learn from their predecessors and find sources of mentorship even if from afar.

Leadership Skills Which Result in Compliance and Resentment

In the early years, Jack was devoted to technical knowledge and expertise. His work ethic was reflected in the fact that he worked long hours, weekends, and overshadowed his contemporaries in regard to productivity and knowledge. As a young manager, he:

  • Used lesser effective sources of power; (a) legitimate, (b) coercive, and (c) expert to enforce deadlines.

  • Used pressure to try and influence his peers and subordinates into performing.

  • Wanted to be seen, as what he considered a leader, as a person who was driven to accomplished corporate goals and succeed.

  • Desired to gain power and be promoted into higher levels of management and drove his business units hard.

  • Was not a team builder, evidenced by his attitudes toward coworkers as the competition.

  • Wanted to be seen, as the reason for a project’s successes.

Jack’s followers reacted to his style with compliance. They feared punishment and complied with his requests accordingly. Jack did not use reward as a power source and this displayed his attitude of self-promotion, which humiliated and de-moralized those that worked under him. Jack’s constant pressure to perform resulted in his staff being too stressed.

At the time of his first major promotion one of his peers was so angered by his obvious drive to succeed he tried to derail Jack’s career. After he found out about the attempted de-railing, he asked himself why had his co-worker reacted that way. While reflecting he realized that the very traits he hated in his co-worker he had expressed within himself, self-promotion at all cost. He relished the fact he would be promoted over his rivals. Jack always had a low tolerance for ambiguity; he hated dogmatism, and maintained a strong internal locus of control, as he always believed he was in control of his own destiny. Jack’s own personal life suffered as well.

Referential Power Versus Coercive Power

Although he was promoted to vice president, because of his business unit’s productivity he had never learned how to use referential power or other influencing strategies and his relationships with his new peers and subordinates became strained. As he reflected on his lack of success, he realized he needed to change his strategies.

As vice president, Jack began to express more empathy toward the line workers and his staff. He began to:

  • Socialize with other leaders including the union bosses.

  • Develop relationships with other leaders and employees. This allowed him to begin to use coalitions.

  • Hold consultations with other managers and leaders.

  • Form coalitions with line workers to successfully motivate union leaders in negotiation for the contracts needed to implement profitable changes.

This change eventually resulted in employees’ commitment to the company; however, in the beginning his direct report employees simply complied. His reputation of intolerance for low performance and downsizing staff caused reactions of fear and resistance. As he socialized with the plant managers he convinced them that he had the company's, and workers’ best interests in mind and that the changes would eventually allow as many people as possible to retain their jobs.