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  • "YOUNG AND RESTLESS" – A LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE

    The article Young and restless in Business Review Weekly February 26 – March 3, addressed the difficulty of retaining young people in organisations. The fundamental cause of the difficulty was identified as being one of “cultural difference” between older and younger staff and management’s failure to deal with it. The example given is the problem of generation gap faced by the accountancy firm Deloitte. The average age of Deloitte’s staff is 28, and whereas the more senior baby boomers have been content to have long careers in the one firm, the younger people have high expectations, are quick to act to meet their own needs, and will not hesitate to find work elsewhere if dissatisfied.

    The article discussed various ways managers and management could mitigate the problem and recommended the flow of dissatisfied young staff leaving organisations could be reduced by management practices such as (1) understanding them (2) good communication (3) tailoring the workplace, and (4) being flexible.

    In an article on a similar theme, Poacher\'s Picnic, BRW March 13 - 19, 2003, Scott T Love, an Executive Search Consultant from Arizona, wrote:

    "People stay with companies for one reason: leadership. If an employee leaves a company, … then the problem lies with you, the manager. If you were a good leader, people would stay. It’s really that simple."

    In our own correspondence with Scott he reveals: "…. (people leaving) has nothing to do with pay plans, incentives, bonuses, etc. Not once have I had a candidate say he would like to stay with his company because he likes how they manage. It\'s all leadership."

    So why do managers focus more on managing than leading? The problem is that most managers confuse management with leadership. While interrelated and interdependent, the two are different: management being about systems and process and the efficient use of resources, while leadership is concerned with creating vision and achievement with and through people. Both require skill and professionalism, but leadership demands greater commitment and ability and willingness to understand and relate to people than does management. It is thus more demanding both in time and personal involvement.

    Scott says: "In my opinion, the reason why managers focus on management and system improvement is that it takes no emotional investment, no personal risk, and no fear of rejection, which according to Maslow are pretty high up there. Management improvement is from the head, but people are motivated by the heart."

    We have found that when firms are confronted with problems that are more often than not are people related, management tries to find solutions through changing processes and systems rather than face up to the more difficult people issues.

    The Young and restless article contained some good suggestions and the focus was on better people ‘management’ - but the word ‘leadership’ did not appear in it. We wonder why. Perhaps the writer/s don’t recognise the difference?

    Peter McDougall, March 2004