A Dead Leader Walking...

In 2017, while in the Caribbean, I met a young American leader who was 28 years old. He had cultivated a large following of Millennials in the Washington, D.C. area, and was known for throwing amazing flash parties for certain liquor brands.  He was now consulting with corporate marketing departments on how to reach Millennials and Gen Z.


As we talked, I shared some of my corporate leadership experiences, and he asked me some questions. He wanted my opinion on why he hadn’t been able to keep a corporate job or obtain promotions into leadership.

He asked, “Why wouldn’t leaders at my normal job listen to me, I got so frustrated with them, I ended up quitting."

This talented young man thought that he was already a leader, but he had no idea how to be a team member much less a team leader. When I asked him about taking some leadership classes he scoffed and said, "I am a leader, I don't need to learn how to lead." Because he refused to be mentored and grow he will never progress past his current state.  Eventually what he has achieved will fade away. He became a dead leader walking. Don't let this happen to you or your emerging leaders.

Choosing to Be a Great Leader

The more mature you grow as a leader, the more you will view the workplace and organizations as systems.  Every aspect of organizational life and business process intertwine with one another.  They create a network of systems or a meta-system.  A change in one system will have a reactive change in another.  Organizations are so much more than groups of people who complete procedures to create value from inputs and outputs.  They are more than profit-making mechanisms.  Corporations consist of living beings, with feelings and needs; each person has a unique reality and experiences at work.  As a leader, your role is to guide them, individually, as teams, and divisions, using your distinctive skills.

One of the most important ideas in leadership development is the concept of “Use of Self.”  The idea is that you are an indispensable tool in your leadership toolbox.  Developing yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually is a crucial step in becoming a great leader.  There are many specialty disciplines within the realm of leadership. 

We need leaders who want to lead us to a future where people are respected, and all four G’s of growth become a reality; consistent growth, competitive growth, profitable growth, and responsible growth.  We need to go beyond talk and act.

Leading Millennials & Zoomers:

Transformation & Servant-Based Leadership

Not All Generations View Leadership The Same.


Ten Leadership Theories You Should Be Aware Of...Click Here!

One fascinating truth about younger generations is that whether their ethical beliefs lean toward Idealism or Relativism, is that they perform better as individuals and in workgroups, and have fewer ethical workplace violations when led by a Servant Based Leadership model. This is likely because they are more socially aware than their older counterparts.  


Some Millennials have even stated that they place their followers and direct reports wellbeing above organizational goals.  No matter what ideological category Millennials fall into, they are more likely to be forgiving and overlook ethical violations than other generations.  Servant leadership alone can not deal with all of the social constructs of today's workforce.  Aspects of other leadership styles are needed.  The value systems of each generation were formed in the time and society in which they grew up.  Leaders must understand these differences, "I Think, You Think, We All Think, Differently", Greg Buschman, Ph.D.(c).

Competency in Leadership

A recent Gallop report showed that in the private business sector, only 33% of American employees are engaged at work as compared to 70% in the world’s best organizations.  The cost of disengaged employees for U. S. companies is $483 billion to $605 billion a year. 


Blake and Moutan, successfully proved that competent leaders are team builders and team builders keep their members engaged. The statistical truth is that long-lasting high-performing organizations are people and results centered and their leaders are team builders.  However, only 25% of today's corporate leaders understand how to effectively build teams.

Mentorship programs enable established leaders who know how to build and manage teams to engage with emergent leaders and teach them how to build teams as well. We as corporate leaders must take advantage of the opportunity to transfer leadership skills to the younger generations and our emergent leaders. Additionally, as established leaders move toward retirement, there is a danger of them becoming disengaged. Implementing mentorship programs reduces this risk. It is the current generation of leaders who are responsible for creating and empowering the next generation of competent leaders.


Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring


The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects, “between 2014 and 2024, 36.4 million workers will enter the labor force, and 28.6 million will leave”.  Its statistics reveal that the makeup of the workforce is changing; it is getting older.  Considering the changes coming and the effects they will have on team power, leaders need to re-evaluate their current workgroup makeup.  If the team mix doesn’t represent members from all stages of life and different skillsets, change it.  Start thinking about pairing emerging leaders with retiring leaders so that there is at least one leader in the bullpen.  Encourage retirees to mentor incoming leaders.  Leaders must begin looking at upcoming retirements and promotions and purposefully create transition plans.  There are so many Boomers who will retire; it is crucial to help prevent the loss of institutional knowledge and wisdom.


Those in leadership should be able to lead and manage the diverse workforce and adapt to these inevitable changes.  Current and emerging leaders need to embrace their generational differences to avoid significant talent and performance deficits as this transition takes place.


When it comes to change, it’s a good idea to be an early adopter and not a laggard.  It’s not enough to go with the current flow.  Leaders must be able to identify future needs.  Over the next ten years, in the public and private sectors, leadership training and mentoring programs will be crucial.  Management should consider using mentorship programs, generational diversity training, and enhanced communication methods.  These can reach and accommodate each generation’s preferences fostering productivity that supports the work environment.  Not taking advantage of the wisdom and knowledge of those who will be retiring makes no sense.  Mentoring younger leaders infuse purpose and meaning into the latter days of a person’s career and helps re-engage disengaged workers.

Mentors and mentees must be aware of the differences in communication norms and be prepared to adapt. As children, Millennials were encouraged to speak and interact with adults, teachers, and coaches. The effect has been the propensity to interrupt managers and superiors, causing difficulties in relationships, respect, and middle management’s ability to get their work completed.


One generation sees interruptions as disrespectful, while the other sees them as their opportunity to provide input. Better expectation setting through mentorship can mitigate difficulties in communication styles.

Mentoring programs can assist with bridging differences in viewpoints. There is a need to instill the value of meritocracy in the workforce. There is also a need for positive support systems from managers to subordinates. Mentoring programs can deliver both. These needs stem from the reality that many Millennial employees were raised by parents, teachers, coaches, and others who made them feel accepted regardless of their performance or the outcome of their work. The sense of entitlement and auto-acceptance in the Millennial generation is pervasive. READ MORE...

Resources: (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015), (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019),(Green & Roberts, 2012),(Kapoor & Solomon, 2011). Greg Buschman, Ph.D. (c) CopyRight 2020 © all rights reserved. "I Think, You Think, We All Think Differently: Leadership Skills for Millennials and Gen Z".

Positive People Management

Alternatives to traditional management theories began to surface in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.  Chris Argyris’ organizational learning, Frederick Herzberg’s motivation, and Douglas McGregor’s X-Y Management theories began applying Organization Development (OD) ideas and democratic rule to the workplace.  These social scientists created alternatives to bureaucratic, top-down, centralized management.  It wasn’t until the 1960s that Human Resource Management theory (HRM) became widely known.  HRM motivates workers by meeting their needs.  The original set of needs was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; physiological, security, social, ego, and self-actualizing.


Think about the timing of HRMs arrival in light of the generational shift happening in today’s workforce.  The older generation’s learned HCT.  HCT creates a division of labor between management and workers.  It then uses the division to justify authoritative management rule, which demoralizes workforces.  It squashes creativity and individualism and discourages innovation.  It imprisons a workforce, does not appreciate diversity, and is single-loop, closed-system oriented. 


According to the Harvard Business Review, “generally people leave their jobs because they don’t like their boss, don’t see opportunities for promotion or growth, or are offered a better gig (and often higher pay); these reasons have held steady for years.”  However, “it’s not just what happens at work—it’s what happens in someone’s personal life that determines when he or she decides to look for a new job,” Brian Kropp of CEB, Washington, D.C.


The top six reasons top-performers leave are:


  • Tired of absorbing extra work others don’t get done.

  • Work is not challenging, so they disengage.

  • Prevented from following new ideas and feel stifled.

  • No professional development opportunities.

  • Not appreciated or recognized for their work.

  • Unfair compensation; includes more than money.


HRM practices can help address these reasons.  By nature, it is people-centered, open-system oriented, and considers external socioeconomic factors that affect meeting employees’ needs.  HRM led companies, ask for external input, incorporate leading practices, and take advice from consultants and experts.  They embrace innovation, change, creativity, and listen to employee feedback.  The bottom line is that HRM is conscious of the human side of leading and does a better job of managing, motivating, developing, and retaining talent." (Buschman, 2020)


Resources: (Huffman, 2012), (Morgan, 2006), (Bronner, 2011), (Harvard Business Review, 2016), (Prossack, 2018)

© 2016 - 2020 Gregory Buschman, Ph.D.(c) All rights reserved.