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Expert Interview – How to Stay Relevant and Engage Our Four Generations.

By November 29, 2017February 14th, 2019Articles, Leadership

microphoneThere are many incredibly powerful leaders in our world and Adam Rowse, of Barclay’s Bank, UK, is one of them. Adam is a dynamic leader who has climbed the success ladder quickly through his natural ability to engage and communicate with people of all walks of life. He is incredibly intelligent and well credentialed, but something I believe attribute to Adam’s success is also his ‘street smarts’.

Adam is Head of Business Banking. He leads over three thousand people who are part of the distribution platforms for the company, including the contact and digital teams.

I had the pleasure of working with Adam in my corporate days and have experienced his leadership first hand. He generously provided his time to be interviewed for my book Busy? and below are some of the gems he shared in that interview that will interest you.

What’s your biggest challenge to stay relevant today?

Change is now a constant. If you aren’t leading through that change, constantly adapting, helping people adapt and be able to accept the change in a way that allows them to function well and deliver to the client then you are not going to succeed. It’s as simple as that.

Banking is a very traditional service platform that has been around for thousands of years. We know there are companies and innovative minds out there who are thinking of ways to disrupt us and acquire business. We are constantly asking the question, ‘What will our Uber moment be in banking?’ It’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of when. If you’re not thinking about that as a leader and thinking how you can change internally as an organisation then you will become extinct.

How do you manage different generations in the workplace?

Leaders now need to learn new ways of operating to not only engage the generations but empower them to work together, which can be challenging given their differences.

In general, Baby Boomers have been told what to do and how to execute, operating within a defined framework with defined behavioural expectations. They haven’t been really empowered, rather they’ve been dictated to, which was prevalent in the previous generation’s style of leadership. Gen X are similar, but not to the same extent. Then you have a different bunch of people: Gen Y and Millennials, who are looking for purpose in what they do and need to be stimulated. They have grown up with so much stimulation, whether that be games or devices, so they don’t do one thing at a time, they do multiple.

People are complex, and when you have an intricate blend of differing wants, needs and motivations then it can be incredibly difficult to bring this into a team that functions and works cohesively.

Leaders are now challenged to create a stimulating environment allowing the younger generations to operate in a way that has purpose and adds value to the organisation while also appeasing the needs of the older generations. Everyone wants to add value, but the Millennials in particular want to see tangible value and understand the direct correlation between what they do and the value generated. This can add a lot of complexity to leadership.

How do you approach managing a team of Millennials?

It’s important to understand that Millennials generally don’t see their career as a career for life. Their loyalty is different. Often they have other plans – they may be looking at starting a business, have multiple jobs, be focused on other activities – so they’re looking for organisations with the flexibility to let them do these things. If not, they will look for a firm that provides those opportunities.

Organisations need to work out how to adapt and change to accommodate this new style of work ethic, while also accommodating the needs and traditional styles of the older generations.

Barclays aims to create a culture of respect and encourage different generations to think more like each other in the following ways:

  • Dual mentor program –
  • Youngest and Brightest Working Group
  • More technology
  • Flexible working environment

How do you ensure you remain relevant?

As a leader you can’t sit still and you can’t become stagnant. This is what I do to ensure I remain relevant:

  • Ask for feedback constantly across all generations
  • Focus on my strengths
  • Delegate
  • Surround self with great people
  • Continually feed my mind and educate myself.

Adam’s strategies certainly work for him and even though he’s in an incredibly demanding position, he ensures that he has created a particular work/life balance that supports him. Impressive!

If you would like to read more of Adam’s interview you can purchase Busy? How to take control, get relevant and be an influential leader here.