Cultural Shifts


Are you making yourself a student of culture and generational trends? When leaders understand cultural shifts, they become more sharply aware of the pivots needed in business.  It is an understatement to say we are in a season of significant change; however, we can allow change to happen to us or we can study it and evolve with it. When we evolve with it we can leverage it and grow with it rather then resist it and resent it as we are left behind in traditions and offerings that do not connect.

Being a student of culture is not about flavor of the day trends and fads. It is about understanding our changing era.  There are endless articles on generational change. While leaders can grow weary of the preferences of Millennials, we are reaching a tipping point where these preferences and values are changing the face of business and our world.  As a leader, it is important to understand what is changing and why. To discern what are underlying values causing a surface change and how does that value system have ripples to how we lead and work.

Inc’s Article by JASON ALBANESE, Four Ways Millennials Are Transforming Leadership, shared these great stats. [1]

Did you know that:

  • by 2030 all members of the baby boomer generation will have reached the retirement age of 65?
  • “More than a third of millennials surveyed believed that within 10 years, “the CEO role will no longer be relevant in its current format.” This may stem from the fact that while 91% of millennials said they aspire to leadership roles, 83% would also prefer to work for companies with fewer layers of management – indicating that millennials are seeking out a less hierarchical approach to leadership.”
  • These shift results in:
    • Desire for collaboration and flexibility over hierarchy and structure (shift in the current CEO and leadership paradigms)
    • Need to better understand empowering of others through greater servant leadership (shift from self to purpose)
    • Great alignment of purpose and values able to be congruent in work and personal life

Make yourself a student of cultural shifts

How to make these changes is connected to understand why the change is being asked for. As you study the shifts you are better equipped to understand what innovations, simplifications, and updates are needed in your organization. When you work from your point of view, you are likely to evolve and perpetuate what you see and understand but miss the boat of the growing request, need, and demand of your stakeholder/customer/prospect/team.

Another quick article posted on Linked In by Rach ElGolli, Millennials deciding the future of Impact investing [2], shares a few highlights in understanding the Millennial generation and their differences. She underscores the importance of understanding the generation as there is a clear indication of different values and priorities (education, environment, sustainability, etc.).  What the Millennial generation value and find acceptable for life, work, and leadership is different then the era we are coming out of.

  • Reflect on your attitude about generational differences. Are you curious or crabby about it?
  • Notice your awareness of generational differences? Are they your bias and opinion or do you look at stats to understand motivational desires?
  • Commit to doing something each week to be a student of culture. It doesn’t matter what age group you are in.
    • Pick up a book on generational themes, listen to a podcast, Youtube video, whatever.
    • Talk to others in other age demographics than yourself, if at all possible, someone younger than you. It is interesting because the sediment in the 2.0 era was to learn from your elders, the challenge is that isn’t exactly the key anymore. There is a desire to learn from elders IF they are understanding, open, and non-judging. If they have an agenda, perpetuate past value systems and stand in shaming judgment of the younger generation, they will not want to learn from you. It doesn’t make sense because you have a different operating system than they do. There is value in cross-generational learning, but more than ever, leaders have to recognize the changing tide and rise with it.

Make yourself a student of culture. Understand the new operating system that is rich with new values and priorities. It is critical for your leadership and your business to connect and communicate with the growing and shifting culture of today.

[1] Inc’s Article: Four Ways Millennials Are Transforming Leadership by JASON ALBANESE

[2] Linked In Article: Millennials deciding the future of Impact investing by Rach ElGolli