In the modern world, we live longer and have the highest birth rate ever. We have a multilayered society, and the most exciting part is that we haven’t taken full advantage of this generational blend in business — yet. Real leadership can help.

Defining Real Leadership

Real leadership creates shared experiences, not just a singular view. It is about listening and hearing; it’s about challenging and embracing change and other viewpoints. Real leadership is no ego and all collaboration, and it’s making sure we have a comprehensive view and the ability to go from micro to macro to micro as many times as we needed to fail and succeed without blame. It is about inclusivity, which means intergenerational success.

We have to move away from the staid and move into the modern. Real leadership is about now.

Real Leadership and Intergenerational Working Are Intrinsically Linked

In the 21st century, we have a plethora of talent and energy, ready for us to grow, nurture and develop. Our future business success requires us to be fully inclusive as we challenge previously accepted norms while applying a view of past actions, failures and progress that widens opportunity.

Real leadership enables us to communicate with honesty and sincerity and then take action. Real leadership is role modeling, questioning with the understanding that we can all learn and allowing everyone to have a voice.

Why wouldn’t you embrace intergenerational working and make real leadership part of your business? Most people don’t know how.

25 Ways You Can Create Real Leadership

    1. Model the behavior you want to see.
    2. Be aware of your language and the words you use. Record yourself to identify frequently used words that you may need to change (e.g., “no”).
    3. Listen more.
    4. Ask better questions, ask more questions … and listen to the answers.
    5. Allow mistakes to happen without judgment or consequence.
    6. Celebrate failure by asking what you can learn from it.
    7. Recognize success, but ensure that it’s not incentive-based. Challenge the paradigm of incentives and pay, and pay better wages.
    8. Reward challenging, questioning and opinions.
    9. Remove fear and insecurity through kindness and recognition.
    10. See the details, and discuss them.
    11. Be involved. Real leadership isn’t making all the decisions; it’s being visible and ready to listen and learn.
    12. Pause before making decisions.
    13. Be present.
    14. Recognize trends as trends. Embrace them, but don’t make them permanent. (Table tennis tables and open-plan offices do not create a better culture.)
    15. Create conversations.
    16. Work across departments and industries.
    17. Share ideas without expecting to receive anything in return.
    18. Hire people who are different and challenge your norms.
    19. Hire nonconformists and outliers, and then support them.
    20. Delegate, and empower others to make decisions.
    21. Speak, attend events and conduct research across industries. Share what works for you.
    22. Apologize when you are wrong.
    23. Own and share your mistakes.
    24. Ask for feedback regularly, and remember that your reaction is critical.
    25. Be ready to change and adapt to situations, especially if they make you uncomfortable.

Create a culture with real leadership, with vulnerability, human connection, listening, trust and respect, and you’ll nurture a successful intergenerational business.