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  • Writer's picturejoel

Be the Leadership Magnet: The Changing Landscape:

In today's highly competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent is a critical objective for organizations aiming for success. The Law of Magnetism, a concept inspired by the principles of attraction, can be harnessed in the recruitment process by focusing on key aspects such as fair wages, a great culture, work-life balance, paid time off and flexibility, an excellent training program, and a clear pathway to advancement and opportunity. By incorporating these elements, businesses can create an irresistible force that not only draws the best employees but also fosters a committed and motivated workforce.

The Changing Landscape:

The recruiting landscape has changed drastically over the past 10 to 15 years. A couple of decades ago, the purpose of a job interview was to determine if the applicant was worthy of the wonderful opportunity they would certainly experience by joining your great company and working under such a wise and respected leader. We've got to sit back and have the pick of the litter. This may not have been true everywhere, but it certainly was the perspective of many employers. The problem is that this sentiment still exists to some degree today, even though the environment and culture have drastically changed.

The old-school leadership model of leading with authority worked a couple of decades ago when there were as many as five or more employees competing for each job. But in today’s culture, leaders that embrace the positional style of leadership, or as John Maxwell would call it, Level 1 leadership, are finding out that this approach doesn’t have much positive impact or influence in today’s culture.

Leaders who have carried over this approach from the 1990s only see how the culture has changed around them and tend to see today’s generation as the source of the problem. There may be some truth to that, but I believe that the culture that the younger generation was brought up in is more of the cause, and their behavior is merely the effect.

A Flipped Market:

In today’s culture, we find ourselves in quite a different situation. The job market has flipped upside down compared to past generations. Around the turn of the century, the number of jobs seemed to catch up with demand. Since then, the number of applicants per available job has decreased little by little, and with the help of COVID 19, we have pushed it over the edge, and we find ourselves in a culture that has more jobs available than we have willing employees to work them.

Leaders are in a precarious position. This is the first generation in quite some time that requires the hiring manager to step outside their comfort zone and go out and find their team. Gone are the days of them lining up to work for you. Now, hiring managers are required to get in line with other employers to make their appeal to why interested parties should work for them. Like it or not, that is where we are.

Common practices in our current generation come as a bit of a shock to older leaders. Some of the social and professional behavior seems very strange and even irresponsible. There has been a change in paradigm, and if we don’t adjust to the new culture, we may find ourselves beating our heads against a wall trying to change a culture back to the way it was. That’s not going to happen anytime soon. Or ever.

Let me try to help set the current scene. Current job seekers or job hoppers have more choices than ever due to there being less of them. In addition, as the number of job seekers has decreased, so has the number of leaders, yet the number of jobs available is still strong. Consider the lower number of people in the workforce along with the lower level of leadership, and you will begin to see the picture. The lowering of the tide lowers all boats. Between younger leaders developing under a less productive worldview and older leaders failing to pivot to a better method of leadership, quality employment opportunities have decreased. It seems to me like Gen X and Gen Z are at odds with each other, and the millennials are caught in the middle of the disconnect.

Depreciation of Leadership:

As I look across most industries, or at least blue-collar industries, I see a depreciation of leadership at most levels of management. It doesn’t take a statistician or market genius to walk into any big box store, restaurant, convenience store, or retail establishment and notice a significant decrease in customer service, work ethic, professionalism, and appearance compared to a couple of decades ago. I suspect this applies to most every industry.

I was at a restaurant a few weeks ago and overheard a group of 3 or 4 employees talking about their lives outside of work. They were dropping F-bombs and talking about very inappropriate topics within earshot of several customers, and they seemed to put the needs of their customers on hold while they took their spontaneous group paid break. I noticed a couple of other customers that were a bit annoyed as they were looking to get refills for their drinks and their server was waiting to bring them the check. I am not sure if this is due to a lack of social awareness, but I suspect that it is as much a factor of adjusted social norms. It is simply normal to talk with no filter around anyone at any time and work on their own terms. What was once sacred, and taboo has become a free-for-all of freedom and entitlement to expression and action.

If this were an isolated incident, I would have been more shocked, but it happens all over the place. Back when I was in my teens and working in the industry, this would never fly, even if I worked for the competition. There are social norms that have not only been crossed but left to die. This generation is not to be shamed by older leaders, but to be helped to see a better way.

Joel Smith

Business Coach, Author and Entrepreneur

This article is a section out of the book Team Design: Building Great Teams By Attracting the Right People. Download the Free PDF version.

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