The multi-generational workplace
New generations of workers are influencing our workplace and in turn approaches to coaching and leadership. One is Generation Y and the other is the ‘Third Actors’, those who might have previously retired but instead are realigning to include a continued career.
The presence of several different generations in the workplace creates extra complexity for leaders, and necessitates a new kind of coaching. Coaches can contribute their knowledge, experience, the fruits of their spiritual quests and their reflexive skills, and also their vulnerability and their ‘not-knowing’, to a new kind of leadership.
It’s time for coaches to shift from being seen and seeing themselves as technical helpmates, to becoming full partners with leaders. This is needed in a world that is too complex for leaders to stand in alone.
A coach can be a partner in a world too complex to stand in alone.
Responding to a changing world
Beyond the workplace, leaders and organisations at the cutting edge are leaning in to the challenges of a global and threatened world. Responding with grace and calm rather than fear and anger is a challenge in itself. Coaching has a part to play in this process.
Just as leaders and businesses are starting to recognise the contribution they can make to address global challenges, so coaches must do likewise if they wish to remain relevant.
This is a new kind of coaching: engaged, compassionate, and downplaying pyrotechnics in favour of committed partnerships to create a legacy that both leaders and coaches can take pride in.
To meet these leaders and work with them on this expanded agenda we are seeing the emergence of what I have termed New Generation Coaching, to support New Generation Leadership.
New Generation Leadership
Drawing on experience and research, the agenda I see emerging for successful and visionary businesses in future has four broad areas of focus, based on four acknowledgements:
Reparation – an acknowledgement of the harm caused by this era’s culture and values, hence our responsibility to repair and engage in reparative activities (examples include intensification of recycling and up-cycling); and the understanding that love in all its manifestations has to be a better basis for progress than fear, blame and retribution.
Risk – an acknowledgement of the inherently risky nature of business in a fast moving and turbulent world, hence putting a primacy on innovation, flexibility, a piloting mentality and intrapreneurship (spreading an entrepreneurial mindset within the organisation).
Regeneration – an acknowledgement of the finite nature of our planet, and the need to reconfigure the concept of growth from proliferation and bigger to deeper and wiser, and to assist the planet to regenerate.
Resilience – an acknowledgement of the abrasive nature of working in today’s world, and of the anxiety generated by unstable and unpredictable environments, bringing the need to enhance not just our ‘bounce-back’ but, through our inherent capacity for learning, to use situations to ‘bounce forwards’.
Together, coaches and leaders can take values-based action.
New Generation Coaching
Similarly, New Generation Coaching has four mutually reinforcing characteristics:
Partnership – Coaches partner with clients in committed and collaborative work towards a shared vision. They know and trust that they have something to offer beyond technical tools. Partnership means risk-taking for the coach as well as the client, to open up unexpected avenues; being there for the longer term; and articulating a strong set of values. These coaches know that continuous development to stretch knowledge and deepen wisdom is imperative.
Systemicity – Coaches view elements, people, and actions as interconnected and interdependent. They engage with the complexity of our age and, through a holistic vision, the complexity of people. A systemic perspective means knowing that small changes can have big consequences, and seeing the beauty of complexity. These coaches consider the leader in relation to their team and organisation, reflecting on decisions made and working in an integral way.
Purpose – Coaches believe that their work is to help leaders discover not only their authentic self but also their contribution to the big picture. They help leaders step back and gain a wider, longer-term perspective. Coaching is positioned towards an enduring vision that lends purpose and cuts away the inessential, uniting conflicting agendas and setting work in the wider context of shared meaning. These coaches encourage legacy thinking, looking back to the origins and roots of issues, and forward to the implications of decisions.
Spirituality – Coaches base their work on a pragmatic, secular spirituality, not beholden to any one faith, retaining independence of mind. Service in a spirit of love, when so many organisations are riven with fear, reflects this. It means working with, through and beyond the individual towards a greater good: for the organisation and the society it serves. Coaches encourage regular mindfulness practice to help cultivate and maintain quietude, a capacity for not-knowing, and the tolerance for chaos that many leaders need.
Leaders today operate with limited information in limited time – they often have to throw their hat over the wall without knowing how they will get themselves over to follow it. Strong core values and a faith in our strong purpose help us take action in spite of ambiguity. That’s where New Generation Coaching comes in: partnering with leaders through the dark and the light and sometimes for the longer haul.