Values-Based Leadership: Pivoting Work Ethic into Work Ethos
Boomers like taking risks; they’re driven and want to make a difference. Their work ethic is almost that of a workaholic, and many are obsessed with success. GenXers prefer efficiencies and results. They’re entrepreneurial by nature and self-directed, preferring to focus on tasks and results. Structure and direction are welcome, but standard 9–5 working conditions aren’t. They prefer to work smarter rather than harder. Get it done and move on. Millennials are seamless multitaskers of life and work. There is no beginning or end — it’s all happening at once. Check their Instagram accounts to see it. Also entrepreneurial, they are tenacious and ambitious. Millennials are globally focused and are natural networkers.
The commonality is that each group in the Quad is willing to work hard, but they do it differently according to their work ethos. You need to acknowledge the different work ethos. No one is “special” — they’re just different. Boomers will work until midnight, but perhaps not by working smarter, just working harder. Xers have a heads-down hyperfocused approach, but they will rarely work a ten-hour day. They broke that cycle. Millennials are always working because they consider work and life to be one seamless activity. However, they won’t allow work to disrupt their lifestyle.
So, the notion that any cohort is lazy is pure stereotype. They all work hard — they just do it differently and utilize different equalizing triggers. The two main triggers that propel work ethos are work-life balance and meaning.
Here are a few ways to address differing work ethos and still get the job done:
- Do allow the team to work in the style that makes them most comfortable.
- Do set deadlines so that no matter how they choose to work, the work gets done on time, every time.
- Do provide the structure to support the team and the direction to get it done.
- Do remind everyone that they all complement one another.
- Don’t allow it to become a free-for-all. Circle back to “provide structure.”