This month's CEO Corner explores the evolving relationship between leadership, technology, and generations in the workforce.
Janet investigates the potential of AI as a colleague rather than a competitor and reflects on the shifting values of Gen Z and Millennials, the importance of engagement in the workforce, and how it impacts the global economy.
Plus, we give you the opportunity to harness the benefits of balancing entitlement and self-responsibility and understand generational differences can lead to more effective leadership.
“A leader of the future will have to be astute enough to balance automation with the human touch. They have to decide what types of tasks to automate so that they can spend more time on high-value activities. But also decide which businesses will continue to benefit from human judgment.” - Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson, of Biocon
As the quote so aptly frames, the future of leading holds a bold generative tension of presence between human touch and machine touch, along with the discerning judgment to choose what becomes high value. Jamen Graves, global co-leader for the CEO & Enterprise Leadership Development practice at Korn Ferry, says the AI’s potential is “mind-boggling.” Still, the technology is evolving so fast that future uses are hard to predict. However, it’s important to hear this in the context of the 70+ evolution of this technology.
Could AI be your next colleague – or replacement? Imagine the possible outcomes from perceiving technology as a colleague rather than a competitor. That could be a sovereign choice, meaning we each elect to accept responsibility for our inner authority to choose how we relate to the conditions of our lives, including the ones that are today entirely dominated by technology.
I find the data Gallup collected about the next generation in the workforce, Gen Z (1997-2012), who is also the first generation of full digital natives, very intriguing. While today they represent just 12.6% of the workforce, demographic data suggests this will be the fastest-growing part of the workforce and will be 38% of the workforce by 2025. Add that to the Millennial generation, which is already at 35%, and we can recognize a cultural wave of change underway.
For leaders in organizations, the feelings about Gen Z and Millennial team members cited most often describe a quality of entitlement rather than self-responsibility. However, as with the history of AI and our relationship with it, the meaning of those qualities requires more critical discernment. Notice in the graphic that engagement soars to 75% when this generation of workers work from home, experience their supervisor keeping them informed, and feel well-prepared for the expected work. The translation for being kept informed and well-prepared suggests a main difference between generations.
For me, three generations older than either group, well-prepared means having access to equipment and resources. Being informed meant knowing what was expected of me to keep my job. By contrast, Gen Z and Millennial personnel focus on whether they feel their job is vital to the boss, as demonstrated by caring about them as a person. Being informed translates to being given opportunities to do what they do best. We can see here that one’s mindset – values, beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, routine actions, frame of mind, and habits – influences whether tension arises. The differences also give insight into how to be more patient with that tension to learn about each other and how both entitlement and self-responsibility contribute to the same purpose, achieving the goals and producing desired outcomes.
A great benefit that these younger generations provide to the older generations arises from the incredible breadth of exposure to global perspectives created by being digital natives. “They’ve grown up with technology as a ‘connector,’” explains Martha Bird, Chief Business Anthropologist for ADP. She says this global perspective has them naturally questioning systems that serve the few over the many, and they feel valued when bosses perceive these experiences and perspectives as serious and worthy of respect. AI technology as a colleague for everyone becomes more appealing from this perspective.
In this year’s State of the Global Workplace report, Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion. That’s 9% of global GDP -- enough to make the difference between success and failure for humanity. So, this subject of the tension between the quality of entitlement and self-responsibility concerns more than whether multiple generations can get along!
We invite you to explore the following fundamental tension between Entitlement and Self-Responsibility. In what ways might you choose one quality over the other versus patiently exploring the benefits of both, accessed in a ratio that matches the context of a thorny problem you are seeking solutions to address? Please work with the handout and then join us for the Vanguard Conversation Series session on Friday, July 14 at Noon US Eastern to learn how James Pratt, founder of Reflective Management, faced and navigated this tension of presence to solve a thorny problem.
As with most months, there are many engaging events to join, all complimentary for you and designed to contribute to your excellence and loving your life’s work. Check out the tiles below and see how you can explore coaching supervision and how this contributes to your ethical quality (and get your CCEs for ethics for credential renewal!) by attending the ICF SE Region Webinar I am speaking for on July 19th. Or, for an asynchronous offer you can listen to on demand, check out the podcast between myself and colleague Tracy Sinclair, MCC as we explore what mastery is as a professional coach.
And just for fun, here are some key dates to plan and enjoy celebrating!
Keep loving your life’s work throughout July and beyond!
Want to dig deeper into AI and Coaching? Read my latest article written for Choice Magazine, the magazine of professional coaching, "Fear Not Learn a Lot".
Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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