Last week, Northern Power Women held the latest Power Circle to discuss the New Traits of Leadership. Leadership is arguably now more important than ever. With many workplaces with differing approaches to the new way of work, many employees look to their leaders for direction and support. Some workplaces are introducing phased returns to the office, whilst others will not return to the office at all. Particularly at the start of a young person’s career, it can be difficult to know what path to take.
We worked with Professor Jane Turner OBE at Teesside University, to research the new traits of leadership that have emerged over the past year. The research provided interesting findings and we wanted to explore them further, a year on from when the research was conducted.
Have the younger generation influenced a new style of leadership?
How can leaders support the younger generation?
Professor Jane Turner said,
“The leadership research that we conducted last year illustrated that as leaders we had been significantly tested. Despite the personal and emotional challenges, the last year has presented, many of us have discovered or re-discovered ways to connect with our teams and those around us that proved very positive. The research was conducted just three months into the pandemic and almost a year on, we are keen to not only share the findings, but also encourage a debate and discussion as to where our understandings of being leaders and leadership currently reside.”
The first topic of conversation centred around young people – have young people developed leadership traits during the pandemic? Many views were shared by the participants. One participant shared her experience of recruiting new people and that there was clear struggle of recruiting young people. She believes the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will impact the younger generation as an epidemic in the future. Job security in these times is a concern, particularly for young people. Whether it is a 6-month internship, or an apprenticeship, many young people will consider the job security at the end of these schemes.
Another participant spoke of how she has watched her own children adapt to new circumstances during lockdown, saying “I’m thinking more about my teenage sons, all the home-schooling, GCSE’s and A Level’s and one transferred from primary to secondary. What I noticed was their ability to self-teach. They learned really quickly to get the information they needed to learn, which I am certain they wouldn’t have done through school”.
So, how can leaders make a difference? Many leaders from the circle offered their solutions. One participant suggested whether it’s a school, work or mentoring context, there is a huge amount that leaders can do. Someone else highlighted the amount of fear in media messaging, and how leaders can support young people in highlighting the positives. Another participant said that young people are not a lost generation, instead they are a generation that need a lot of support.
The Circle also explored the differences between working from home versus working in the office, throughout the pandemic. Another participant said that successful people flex their style accordingly – you must develop targeted listening. A flexible style of work has been desired by many over the years. By listening to workers, leaders can accommodate their needs. Young people in particular are open to a flexible work approach.
The participant also discussed young people being resilient, motivated and passionate. Young people want to make a difference. One Power Circle participant commented, “my daughter said the way to help young people move forward is to listen, learn and launch. We can often superimpose our ideas to the solutions that young people want, without actually hearing from young people about what they want. Rather than superimposing, listen to young people, hear what their challenges are, think about the questions to ask them – what are their barriers and issues in coming back into the workplace? Don’t just listen, but as a result of what you’ve heard, learn from that – make the necessary adjustments.”
Does this mean the new generation of young professionals are able to deliver the same results working from home versus in the office?
The final main topic of conversation was sustaining the new and positive elements of leadership. The leaders shared their views on the future of leadership. Some participants suggested that by identifying vulnerable groups, leaders see the issues and gaps – leaders need to step in and have a voice as part of levelling up. One said that by leaders building opportunities for young people, they will be part of business solutions. Ultimately, flexible approaches to work and creating opportunities for young people is the way forward and is a new trait of leadership.
As leaders, supporting young people is essential to the development of young professionals, and businesses. Ultimately, the new generation of professionals look to their leaders for support and direction.
You can provide this direction to a young person’s career by signing up to our Carousel Networking Event, supported by BNY Mellon on Wednesday 30th June 2021 at 12:30-13:30PM.
Networking is crucial for the career development of young professionals. Whether it’s sharing industry knowledge, or interview tips, paying it forward means you’ll make an impact on a young professional.
Click here to sign up now: https://npfcarouselnetworking.eventbrite.co.uk