The Future Paradigm of Leadership is Now
Written by William A Hindle
When I founded HindlePower at the start of the 21st century I think it’s fair to say that my leadership style and the company culture that I sought to create raised a few eyebrows. It was ground-breaking and very, very different.
I come from the world of manufacturing. In my world, most companies are still operating from an old paradigm. Management is in their offices waiting for their grandfather to come to work. They expect their employees to show up with their metal lunchboxes and overalls, clock in and be told what to do. But, that’s not who today’s workers are. Millennials and Gen Z are an ever-increasing part of the workforce, but somehow our business models are still based off the leadership styles coming out of World War 2.
Companies are run like military operations: hierarchical, unemotional, and entirely focused on getting stuff done. They assume their employees naturally lack drive and ambition, that they find work boring, avoid it when they can, want to be told what to do, and are best motivated by fear.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been at conferences or CEO forums where the constant refrain from the CEOs in the room is “I don’t know what to do about these tattooed pierced people who just don’t want to work.” This is the viewpoint of most of my peers when they think of the prospect of working with the Millennial and Gen Z generation. I am the anomaly; way out at the other extreme; I maintain that the Millennial Generation is the greatest generation to have ever lived and it’s my job as a leader to create the environment in which they thrive.
It was my vision when HindlePower was formed to create a company that prioritized our people above all else. I wanted to establish an environment that supported and grew each person and helped them to thrive. I knew that if we could do that then they would grow the business.
Twenty-two years on from the formation I can see that approach has become much more mainstream and I have no doubt that leadership in the future will continue to be even more collaborative and trusting. Millennials are known for craving purpose in their occupation and culture is equally or more important to the Gen Zers.1
Supporting this view, the bestselling author and keynote speaker Jacob Morgan interviewed more than 140 top CEOs from around the world at companies like Audi, Mastercard, Unilever, Oracle, SAP, Best Buy, Verizon, and many others for his book The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade. He asked the CEOs a series of questions, and from the interviews, he created what he called ‘The Notable Nine’, the top four mindsets and top five skills that future leaders must master.
I’d urge you to read Morgan’s book or the Notable Nine article on the Forbes website2 to get into the detail but, in general terms, his work supports the view that as millennials increasingly become business leaders and CEOs they will be even more focused on building relationships and using a team approach to achieve the goals and mission of the organization. They will seek the opinions of others before making major decisions and will embrace family values. In the book and article, words such as humanity, humility, curiosity, coaching, empathy, vision, and self-awareness are frequently employed. That’s what these CEOs suggest leadership in the 2030s will look like. Wow! For me, that’s great news!
I’m proud that those traits also figure prominently in The Hindle Experience, a leadership development course we’ve developed based on my book ‘Business Culture: Create your Masterpiece’. If I want to motivate my employees, I first must recognize, I can’t motivate my employees! Motivation comes from within. Motivation comes from the ‘feel good’ that comes from moving toward your purpose. To have purpose at work, I need to be in an environment where first and foremost I feel secure. An environment of mutual trust and respect for all. This is the basis, the starting point.
The feelings of mutual trust and respect come from the top. And they must be real! You must be genuine! I call it ‘genuinity‘, a leader must have genuinity in order to be effective. I know it’s not a real word. Genuinity is when your insides match the outside. You can say and do all the right things, but if you don’t mean it, people will know. Only then can a leader empower their employees. Your team needs to be trusted, they need to be in the know, and you need to have genuinity. Only then can they start to feel a sense of purpose. Only then will they be motivated. People don’t get motivated because they have a job, they are motivated because they have a purpose and it feels good!
I’m proud that some aspects of the leadership style and culture we developed at HindlePower appear to have been thirty years ahead of the game. Some of the elements above are just a small part of the elements necessary for creating company culture capable of creating magic. I’m tired of hearing old men complain about the young tattooed pierced people who don’t want to work. It’s time for a new business model that embraces the employee, grows the employee. It’s not my mission to make my employee work harder, it’s my job to create the space for them to actuate themselves and watch the magic happen.