Building Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Leaders

In the movie Remember the Titans, the story follows the integration of two high schools. Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) is hired as head football coach in a very emotionally charged situation. At any point, something bad could erupt. Yet, the movie captures the attitude transformation of the team. The team captain, who was an All-American defensive player, finds himself complaining about the selfishness of another player.

Besides, this captain wasn’t supporting the head coach’s philosophy of becoming a successful team. Only when the leaders on the team supported the team strategy did the team start being successful.  Captains understand how to lead on their ships. In business, many managers do not know how to lead. Therefore, they are always lingering threats of a silent mutiny. How do managers stay engaged with their employees? In this discussion, we will examine how emotional intelligence can help today’s leaders better connect with their followers. Continue reading

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Inspiring Generation Z with Transformational Leadership

I was stuck right in the middle. I brought a group of GEN Y and GEN Z college students on a service trip involving our faith. The coordinator for our service project was a good man with great intentions for the team. However, he managed the group as an authoritarian leader with a  militaristic top-down approach. Feedback and input were not necessarily desired. While I was accustomed to this style and could adjust, this leadership style did not resonate well with the young members of the group.

He conveyed to me that the students complained too much about the circumstances while the younger members complained about the leader not listening or caring about them. The relationship could have gone south. I provided each group a different perspective about each other. The leader attempted to make changes, including asking for my input from the group and the young members responded by acknowledging his attempt to build bridges. From that point, the group was able to achieve more and have a better relationship within the group. The situation reaffirmed to me the importance of understanding generational issues and how to inspire younger generations toward great performance.

In today’s organizations, they face an arsenal of disruptive change and chaos all around us.

Disruptive change speaks the changing nature of our society. In fact, our extensive experience about the past can haunt us in a world riddled with uncertainty. Having young employees who are technologically savvy and adaptable to these environmental climates could help an organization succeed. Yet, many executives do not know how to recruit, retain, or to inspire these young generations.    

As a result, organizations that wish to compete today must understand how to inspire Generation Z employees for sustainable success. However, this task is not easy. When Generation Y (aka Millennials) entered the workplace for the first time, some managers were given bad advice. The advice included telling managers to praise Millennials regardless of their performance, reward them for just showing up to work, put hand-held devices in the hands (and get out their way), and allow them come to work whenever they want to (allow them to bring their puppies). In this scenario, the workplace becomes a magical place where every workday is filled with fun and excitement.

That advisement was misleading and created unrealistic expectations of the workplace and resentment from older generations. What organization can afford to get Generation Z wrong under this global landscape?  Thus, understanding generational issues can assist managers with a multi-generation workforce and lead them toward greater performance as a team. In this discussion, I will examine how today’s organization can inspire Generation Z employees with transformational leadership.

Today’s businesses cannot afford to overlook Generation Z. For the first time in history, five generations are co-existing together in the workplace. Each generation has distinct attributes, such as belief systems, expectations, and behaviors. Managing Generation Z will not be easy. Generation Z is the most global, diverse, technological, and entrepreneurial generation ever. In fact, they have never known a digital world without smartphones and social media. In general, they were born in 1995 and after. This generation makes up about 26% of the U.S. population. Each generation is shaped by parenting and its social environment. Managers should not merely lump Generation Y and Generation Z in the same category. Some experts note that Generation Z is more focused than Generation Y or Millennials.

Forbes contributor Deep Patel in his article “8 Ways Generation Z Will Differ From Millennials In The Workplace” notes that Generation Z are more independent thinkers than Generation Y. He adds, “While millennials are often seen as more idealistic, and more motivated by purpose than a paycheck, Generation Z may lean more toward security and money. This is a pragmatic generation — they care about making a difference, but are ultimately motivated by ensuring they have a secure life outside of work. If you’re looking to recruit members of Generation Z, you may be able to tempt them with promises of job security and raises down the line.” Given the unique characteristics of Generation Z, employers cannot afford to use the same old recruitment and retention strategies on this younger generation.

Dr. Green reads to Generation Z students at Revelation Ministries in Cape Town, South Africa.

In this unstable environment, organizations need the right type of leadership for Generation Z employees. These younger employees will tend to respond better with transformational leadership than a transactional leadership style. In a nutshell, all managers are not leaders. Some managers are great at defining tasks and having the employees work toward that goal. They rule by their position in the organization. Otherwise, no one would follow them. In fact, these same managers are lousy at inspiring their employees. In transactional leadership, individuals lead others in an ‘exchange’ of work for rewards/punishment. If employees completed the assigned work scope, they would be compensated with wages, full employment, or other benefits; likewise, if they do not perform, they could be punished or fired.

Dr. Green attempted to connect with Generation Z students at Revelation Ministries in Cape Town, South Africa.

Whereas transactional leadership rarely produce zealots who are inspired in organizations, transformational leadership has the ability of getting the greater buy-in of followers. In the simplest sense, transformational leadership can be defined ‘as a leadership approach that causes a change in individuals and social systems…it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.” Generation Z employees need leaders who can connect with them and inspire them toward greater achievements. Generation Z are realistic and concerned about their safety and the world. Some would call them anxious. According to one study, 58% of Gen Z’s are either somewhat or very worried about the future. Below are some interesting statistics on Generation Z:

  • 66% say that technology makes them feel that anything is possible.
  • 76% feel that their online experiences will help them reach their goals.
  • 79% display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices.
  • 72% of Gen Z want to start a business someday.
  • 30% feel their college has failed at teaching them applicable real-life business skills.

Leadership guru Dr. Richard Daft argues that transactional leadership may not be enough in a disruptive, changing world: “Transactional skills are important for all leaders. However, in a world in which success often depends on continuous change, organizations also need transformational leadership…Transformational leadership is based on the personal values, beliefs, and qualities of the leader rather than on an exchange process between leaders and followers. Given the generational characteristics of Generation Z and the need for success in organizations, the following suggestions are offered to lead this generation:

  • Create a shared vision within the organization.
  • Get to know employees, especially newer ones in the organization.
  • Define goals, objectives, and desired objectives, making boundaries clear.
  • Ask for feedback when appropriate and follow-up on the endpoint.
  • Show how each person is valued within the organization.
  • Seek to inspire employees by tapping into their intrinsic rewards.
  • Build teamwork in the organization with group incentives (i.e., bonuses).

With continual pressures to compete, today’s businesses need to have employees who are adaptable to disruptive changes. In our society, there are 5 generations that co-exist in the workplace. Perhaps, Generation Z with its diversity and ingenuity may be the best of all generations. Yet, managers who do not understand Generation Z employees may not be able to get the most out of them. In our discussion today, I outlined how today’s organization can inspire Generation Z employees with transformational leadership.  Unlike transactional leaders, transformational leaders must tap into their followers to find what motives them. Working with Generation Z employees will pose the same type of challenges. With change continuing to be more rapid and unpredictable, today’s organizations cannot hope to succeed without getting the best out of each employee. We pray that it is not too late to inspire Generation Z in your own organizations.

Please share your insight on this topic.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl Green provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s business leaders. He is the Dickinson Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University. In 2016, he retired as a senior engineer and program manager with the Department of Energy after a successful career. Dr. Green has over 25 years of management experience and has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, please visit http://www.drdarylgreen.com.

Retooling Ethical Behavior With Agrarian Leadership

Summary: Examine the concept of agrarian leadership in today’s society. Dr. Green shares how to infuse ethical behavior in the workplace with a different type of leadership. 

We live in a digital economy. Technology and innovation continue to improve our wants and desires. Like the Great Roman Empire, the moral decay in our society will slowly eat us from the inside out. In order to improve leaders’ value systems, we need to regain the values of agrarian society. Leadership expert Vana Prewitt argues that the current leadership theories are based on modernist assumptions and are out of date with leading today’s postmodern organizations. Given this dilemma, I advocate for a different kind of 21st leadership.

Today’s leaders need a fresh and authentic outlook, which is morally sound. In fact, a leader’s vision must be deeply rooted. Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan, authors of Managing Organizational Change explain, “Visions are thus linked to strategy and competitive advantage, enhancing organizational performance and sustaining growth… A lack of vision, on the other hand, is associated with organizational decline and failure.” Let’s look at Agrarian leadership. Agrarian leadership is defined as a contextual influence that has an impact on subordinates’ attitudes and performance by leaders who are both value and results driven. Agrarian leaders view their followers as critical parts of the socio-technical system. Therefore, technology does not drive the value system of society.

Before the Industrial Revolution, life was centered on land and labor. Life was simple for the leader in the agrarian society. Rural living revolved around the land; owning it was equivalent to self-sufficiency and liberty. Although Americans lived in a tribal structure prior to the Agrarian Era (1650-1849), farming communities operated in a decentralized economy.

Agrarians exercised a strong spirituality and a deep respect for the environment. There was a genuine concern for neighbors and co-workers. Being a leader was a major responsibility. In fact, farmers were like heroes because of their hard work, contributions to society, independence, and moral standards. A man’s word meant something. With the transition from an agrarian to industrial society, untainted leadership was lost.

The Industry Revolution meant major changes to the American way of life. Before that period, over 90% of Americans lived rurally. Farmers influenced society. Between 1870 and 1900, rural areas doubled and the urban regions tripled. Farmers were cautious about these societal changes.

Industrial managers faced challenges, such as generating new efficiencies while expanding operations. Chaos theory was in effect because those managers couldn’t control these organizational changes (both inside and outside). Factory managers lacked a process to motivate the unskilled (former agrarian) workforce. This era created new advances and new problems.

The Industrial Revolution forever changed agrarian society, primarily due to market economy and technology. Farmers were less self-sufficient and became “economic market” slaves. This created a conflict because farmers and industrial society had different values. Farming became more productive, but fewer farmers were needed.

As a result of these advances, farmers lost their independence, family focus, and societal influence on moral conduct. For example, some managers found factory workers breaking equipment. Consequently, managers tried to institute positive and negative rewards; these managers used conventional wisdom: “the hungriest man makes the best worker.” Once again, humanity was moving away from his calling—the land.

Therefore, advances in technology do not always equate to a better society. Many techno advocates would argue that technology has provided superior virtues. I beg to differ. First, technology doesn’t automatically improve society. In over 50 years, America has gone from rural to city and from national to international markets. Richard Critchfield, author of Trees, Why Do You Wait: America’s Changing Rural Culture, argues that these advancements have weakened our core values, such as family tradition and work ethic.

Secondly, the disintegration of the agrarian code has destroyed our moral stability. Osha Davidson, the author of Broken Heartlands, suggests that technology and the economic prestige of the agricultural system brought a host of social ills, such as poverty, depopulation, and soil erosion.

In closing, we may consider agrarian lifestyle primitive. However, agrarian values shouldn’t be forgotten as good leadership attributes. We continue to advance technology rapidly while the values of society continue to disintegrate with each innovation. In society, many leaders exhibit unethical conduct, pursuing wealth. Throughout American history, we see the consequences. Let’s pray it’s not too late for agrarian leadership.

Please discuss agrarian leadership as it relates to a changing world.