A survey of young South Island leaders reveals they are worried about their performance and their people. That’s the overwhelming message coming across from Sheffield’s Leadership Survey 2018. Sheffield conducted 60 in-depth interviews, specifically with leaders under the age of 50 from across the South Island.

Interestingly, last year the big concern for leaders was around issues of Health & Safety. “Whilst health and safety is still a concern for some, our leaders told us that they’re more concerned with their own performance and how to best manage their people”, said Sheffield Director Mike Stenhouse. Even more worrying was that 30% of those surveyed said that they do not see a long term future in their current organisation.

This is second survey Sheffield South Island have conducted in as many years with the independent research company Research First. “After the success of last year’s survey, we asked for feedback, and overwhelmingly, people said that they were concerned with the next generation of leaders and how to best manage them”, said Stenhouse. “That’s why for this survey, we specifically spoke to Leaders Under 50”.

From an organisational standpoint, many companies have four or even five generations in the workplace. Whilst having a diverse workplace, in terms of age, ethnicity and gender is positive, the leaders said that they were not confident with their bosses ability to work with a range of diverse staff. Only 62% rated their boss as being “comfortable” working with people of different ages, genders and ethnicities. This is something that is going to have to be addressed rather soon, given the fact that 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials by 2025.

The survey also revealed the lack of understanding on how to best attract the Generation Z, the latest generation to enter the workforce. Only 30% said that they knew how to lead them, with a mere 25% stating that they understand how to get the best out of them.

An interesting aspect of the multi-generational workforce is that despite the age differences, they also share some common traits. “Generally, all generations want feedback, they want good leaders, they like to learn and they want respect in the workplace”, said Louise Green, senior consultant at Sheffield. “It’s the subtle nuances that matter. For example, whilst everyone wants feedback, Baby-Boomers might prefer it face-to-face, whilst Millennials might be more comfortable with a text”.

Today's leaders need to understand these subtleties if they want to get the best out of their staff, even before they start the job. “The leaders we spoke to said that when it comes to recruiting, they look for people skills and cultural fit over technical aptitude”, said Green. “IQ is no longer the main determinant of success. The best leaders these days exhibit strong EQ, or people skills”.

If you'd like to know more about The Sheffield Leadership Survey, please contact Mike Stenhouse.

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