During a recent executive management meeting with a very large Fortune 500, we were discussing the new workforce and how it is constantly evaluating leadership. In previous generations, employees tended to view management through their own experience. In other words, the question, “How is my supervisor treating me?” was commonplace. If I was being treated fairly, then all was well with the world.
21st-century leaders must understand they are constantly being evaluated. Additionally, this evaluation is not about how they are treating each person individually. We have often seen talented employees leave an organization who have been treated fairly across the board.
If they were treated fairly, then why did they leave? The answer: Their manager was not consistent in the treatment of all employees. Even though they were treated fairly, they saw an inconsistency of leadership throughout the organization and decided to take their talent elsewhere.
Millennials look at their leaders differently than previous generations. It is not only how they are treated that matters. They evaluate how the leader treats everyone. Is the top performer treated the same way as the average or struggling employee? Not necessarily with recognition, but with application of leadership principles.
Every generation has recognized the need for consistent application of leadership. That’s nothing new. What is new is how leaders are constantly evaluated on their treatment of everyone. Even if the boss is treating me fairly, is she treating my colleagues the same way?
Consistency is critical for 21st-century leaders. In many ways, it is the 21st century equivalent of “walking the walk”.