Are You a "New School" Leader?
July 12, 2007

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th American President

If you pick up a training or human resource magazine these days, you're likely to find at least one article about how to work with, maximize, engage and otherwise lead the "Millennials." Millennials are also known as "Y's" or the "how to engage generation." Then there are Generation Xers, the boomers, and the echo boomers. Does paying attention to this really make a difference in how things happen at work each day? Researchers tell us it does. What is very certain is that managing is changing and challenging today. You and your leaders cannot afford to be "old school."

Old School vs. New School

Management speaker, author and trainer Tim Connor describes the old school leader as a "top down autocrat while giving lip service to bottom up responsibility, decision making, goal setting and problem solving." Further more, he says that these old school leaders are "often aloof and inaccessible. They believe to win means beating someone else." He goes on, but you get the picture. Does this sound like someone in your organization and in fact, several people? Your organization could be headed for turnover, low productivity and morale, and poor customer service. Maybe you are already there.

On the flip side, Connor explains that the leader of the future, our "new school" version, listens to employees, customers, and suppliers to create partnerships inside and outside the organization. "They empower people by pushing decision making, authority, accountability, problem solving, goal setting and risk taking down through the organization." This kind of environment is one that is ripe for growth.

Leading the Diverse Workforce as a New School Manager

With all of the diversity in your workforce, new school leadership creates managers who are trained to focus on what people do (their behavior) rather than their attitudes or personal characteristics. They also must possess critical skills necessary to delegate, evaluate performance, deal with complaints and resolve conflicts in a positive and effective way. They support each team member's sense of self-respect and dignity. As Connor says, new school leaders "create a strong team approach to projects, programs, objectives and solving problems. They encourage cooperation and open, honest communication. They reward creativity, mistakes that contribute to improvements and honest feedback."

Benefits of New School Leadership

Whether you have leaders who are new, experienced or aspiring there are many benefits to bringing your leadership into a more forward thinking, culturally and relationally sensitive way of approaching work. The benefits of this new leadership are:

  • Increased employee retention, morale, and productivity
  • Improved customer and supplier relationships
  • Open communication and discovery of issues as a chance for positive change
  • Being known as a great place to work to improve recruitment
  • Maximization of talent and resources

Training programs such as Essential Skills of Leadership are helping organizations turn their supervisors and managers into new school leaders who are creating more positive and productive work environments.

About the author:

Don Bowlby is the Vice President, Operations at Corexcel, a company specializing in online continuing education and workforce training. For more information about Corexcel and the training materials they offer, visit

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