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Setting up the next generation of business leaders

by Reporter12 minute read

As older workers phase out into retirement, the younger generations are beginning to take the reins in leadership positions.

Each generation is expecting different things from their employer. According to HiBob’s vice president of APJ, Damien Andreasen, the younger generations are prioritising purpose and relationships at work.

“When we talk about the shift in generations in the workforce, the younger generations that are starting to come up and through and even starting to get into leadership, a lot of the drivers for them is about purpose and impact. And then I think that also then drives into the relationships they have at work,” he said.

“And there are plenty of stats out there about relationships with managers and coworkers being the single biggest reason why employees stay with companies and also the single biggest reason why they might leave. So, I think relationships are the forefront of everything in business. If you don’t have great relationships with your peers when you’re trying to do really hard, challenging work, things can come undone pretty quickly. It’s pretty fundamental in my eyes.”


We spend a third of our lives working. While this may be a grim thought to most, it highlights just how crucial positive relationships are at work.

Further to relationships, leaders need to acknowledge and embrace the diversity of the workforce. It’s never a one-size-fits-all, and this goes for our young leaders, too. This isn’t just beneficial to the individual, but it can also promote innovation within a company.

“A common misconception is that when you try to build a culture and people who are driven by the same outcomes and want to work in the same kind of ways and support each other, that that means creating an echo chamber. But I think the opposite. Diversity of thought and experience is critical to being able to have a really great base of knowledge in your organisation,” Andreasen said.

“When you’re building companies, you face multiple different challenges every day. So, if you’re listening to an echo chamber, you don’t get a great perspective on how to solve challenges. But when you get people from different generations, different backgrounds, different experiences, you get a much wider knowledge base that you can tap into and help to solve those problems.”

He continued: “One of the big things in these intergenerational workforces, where you do have five different generations all working together, is understanding the drivers for each of those generations and also each of the individuals. Some generations want to show up, do their nine-to-five, make as much money as they can and switch off. For others, work is actually way more personal for them, and it’s actually about the relationships, what they’re able to achieve and how they’re able to grow as an individual and into their careers.”

Identifying what your workforce needs through open communication can help young workers flourish into new leaders.

“It differs a lot [between] different generations, what each of them is looking for. But if you communicate about it and you talk about it regularly, people start to empathise and understand what each other is about. And I think that comes back to that really clear and constant communication,” Andreasen said.

The next challenge, noted Andreasen, will be identifying and developing the skills needed in the future of work. We’ve reached an inflection point in the workforce, with the emergence of tech like AI and the offset of the pandemic shaking things up dramatically. Employers must keep their ear to the ground and prepare for new ways of working if the new generation of leaders is to thrive.

“When we think about the future and developing leaders, it’s hard to imagine right now what some of the skills that they’re going to need as we move into. [It will be] a very different period of what work’s going to look like in the next 10 to 100 years. With the advancements of AI, beyond the buzzwords and the hype, I think it is going to have a material impact on the way that we do work,” Andreasen said.

“And that’s a question I don’t think anyone’s really able to answer right now, but I think the fundamentals stay the same … I think leadership is about understanding how to get the best out of people and how to tap into their potential and understand what’s important to them.”

He concluded: “There’s been a really dramatic change in the skill sets that people need to be able to do their jobs now because [of] the way people [are] doing their jobs, and everyone’s looking to drive efficiencies and bottom line, but they still need productivity and engagement. It’s a much more complex environment to be successful in. And so, you need to really think about how you retrain your teams for the current realities of the market versus what it used to be. And they are very different skill sets. So, I think if people don’t really understand the difference in the market and identify the skills that might be missing in their teams and their leadership and develop them and spend the time coaching and developing and training, then you’re missing a bit.”

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