Leadership and the Generational Divide

Ever just sit with a friend at lunch and have one of those discussions that just turned into a blog post! Well, today I did and here are my thoughts and post.

The topic today comes from the wonderful world of sports and work leadership. On many occasions I have paralleled sports leadership to work leadership, this one is no different. As many of you know I have been at Intel for 27 years (my profile says it all). I have seen a shift in the demographic of the workforce and how we work at Intel. What I have not see a lot of is leadership styles and approaches morph with those changes. A lot is very large window to draw on. I have seen some, but I can safely say I see more of the old style. Should leaders change? Can leaders change? Yes and I hope so.

To drive home a point that was made at the table. When you look at sports leaders and see what made them successful and then want ended up costing them their jobs – I think you will see my point. Few can argue about the success of Bobby Knight and Woody Hayes. Back in the day, they were very solid. There styles were old school, in you face, hit the negative and bully you into stepping up your game. When I grow up – that was all of the coaches that I had as leadership material. When I went into coaching back 25+ years ago – I copied what I thought worked for me. Since today’s athlete is different (more into the self esteem era) those tactics work for a very short time period.  Coaches need to morph their styles to be successful over the long haul.  Drawing on a hockey situation, some coaches are hired for their short term turn the program around but winning a championship may not be in the cards. Mike Keenan is one coach – that had success a long time ago, but if you hire him now – it is for the quick short term fix. He is not going to take you to the promise land now. Take another example – this time in baseball, Buck Showalter for the Yankees. He came in did some good things but when Joe Torre came in – the Yankees were on top of their game. The leader and their styles have an impact. On the team, the individuals and the organization.

Same can be said for leaders in business, they can have the same impact – either good or bad, short term or long term success and inspire or be negative. I have seen some interactions today, that lead me to wonder is this behavior for a short term fix or are we in this for the long term success. Being negative, belittling your people and striking fear – just are not good today (probably where not in the old days – but were normal day to day behaviors). Back in my early years of Intel – well, it worked (or maybe it was short lived success) – my memory has changed over the years. Are all leaders this way? Let me state upfront – I have not seen all leaders do these things. But, I have not seen a complete absence of these behaviors either.

For me personally as a coach, I took what I saw and learned and used that as my bases of how I would coach. It worked early on. But, when the players started changing those “old” tactics turned the player off – I had to change. I believe that every leader has someone that they hold as a role model that they want to be like. That is good. I just ask that every leader look at the style of that leader (old school) and think does that really work today?