In the ongoing conversation between Baby Boomers and the generations who will take leadership positions in the future, there is a lot of noise about what generations x and y need. What they don’t need is long-winded advice.
You might remember being young in your career and trying hard to listen to those who came before you with all of their suggestions. What you really wanted was to try things out for yourself. You learned best by being guided through the experiences of winning and failing.
So all of you Baby Boomer leaders out there – are you giving advice or are you allowing generation X and Y to experience life and work?
You may think these younger generations don’t want to be mentored. That isn’t true; they just don’t want to be lectured. If you are doing nothing but giving advice, then you aren’t preparing them for what’s next, and they won’t be ready to step into your shoes when you move on. When you are only giving advice, chances are that they are barely listening. So instead of advising, try guiding instead.
Some questions you can ask to guide them
Guiding requires you to help others to call up their own solutions. In so doing, you mustn’t judge their answers, but rather lead and encourage them to try new things. So when you might think it’s time to give advice, consider starting with some of these questions instead (which can be modified to meet the specifics of their needs):
- What has worked for you in the past?
- What have you seen others do that you’d like to try?
- Of all of the ideas you’ve put on the table here, what do you think you’d like to start with?
Help them to sketch out the small steps needed to get started. Guide them when things go wrong, and guide them again to get back up on their feet. Catch them doing things right and let them know they’re on the right track. Watch them grow and develop and be ready to take your place.