Are You Providing Wisdom of Elders?

I was having a chat with a Senior Executive about how staff in today’s business world are very different from the past.  She was complaining a bit how the younger generation has a sense of ‘entitlement’ wanting to quickly move from new employee to running the company making lots of money.

When I asked her to describe some of the great things that their current leadership team was doing to connect and inspire the younger generation of staff she just stopped and looked at me.  “When I started in the workforce I was just grateful to have a job, kids today are so spoiled that they don’t think that they need to listen to anyone.” I could hear the frustration in her voice.  

I believe that this is a very big issue for many organisations.  They do not know how to engage their younger people and many are finding it difficult to motivate and focus them.  Also, they do not look for ways for their leaders to hack their approach to find a new way of connecting and mobilising their people.

If I look back to how many Native American and indigenous tribes around the world would lead it was very different than today.  The leaders did not always just tell their people what to do, often they would spend time with them and ask them a question to get them to think and give them a task that would enable them to grow and stretch into this skill.  This changed the dynamic of the relationship to make the leaders someone that was looked up to and followed not because of their title, but because of their wisdom and ability to connect with others. When was the last time you provided the wisdom of an Elder?  When did you make it easy to notice someone struggling and give them a sage piece of advice that helped them focus on the way forward?”  Often the wisdom is not in what an elder would say that they have achieved, but often in how they have failed and the learning that they so willingly share with others.

How You Can Provide the Wisdom of an Elder?

1. Be Visible.  Take the time to be visible and available to others.  Too often leaders spend too much time in their office and not enough time being around to make it easier for their people to ask them for insights.

2. Ask—Don’t Tell.  One of the biggest mistakes many leaders take is to just constantly tell people what to do.  This creates a negative pattern where their people do not grow, stretch or gather any value. Take the time to ask your people their thoughts and how they could do something and provide them with opportunities to stretch their capabilities.

If we had more wisdom from leaders in the workplace, staff regardless of their age would be more inspired and want to lift their performance.  With a few simple Leadership Hacks from the past, we could help achieve more in the future.