Nathan Jones: The Importance of Bringing Gen Y Into the Leadership Mix

It’s not often that you will see a leadership team in a company comprising of most members under 50, unless the company has been founded by people below this age. However, for older companies that have a long history of having a team of ‘senior’ leaders, it can be challenging for them to accept younger generations into leadership positions.

This view is starting to change, and I myself am an example of that. Here’s why bringing Generation Y into the leadership mix is incredibly important and why more companies should do so.

What’s different about younger leaders?

Older leaders may have more experience on paper but younger team members can offer something else. Most evidently, I have seen the different perspective they give and the unparalleled drive for innovation that has never been seen before.

In terms of the search for innovation, the most striking difference is Generation Y actively look for and investigate new concepts inside and outside of our sector to understand how these can be utilised to positively impact our relationships with clients and ultimately our business.

The real estate industry, for instance, has historically been quite passive to innovation and change but bringing people with this type of mindset into leadership positions when they are younger helps drive the change that is needed.

In terms of Gen Y specifically, they are at an age where they can relate well with older generations but can also interact, understand and empathise with even younger people which certainly provides a unique perspective on relationships and the drivers behind those.

How to get younger people ready for leadership positions

Some people will be hesitant to bring younger generations into leadership teams, but there are ways to overcome this.

Those that are younger should always be closely aligned with a senior team member so that they are aware of the roles and responsibilities they undertake. They should act as a mentor and an advocate for what is right and expose them to conversations, projects and relationships that others at their age may not have previously had.

Older generations should want to see current and future leaders come through the ranks and this can be assisted with professional development programs. There shouldn’t be a divide between older and younger team members but they should collaborate to achieve what is best for the company.

Leadership and company culture

Great people are needed for companies to grow in the right direction, and this means that they can come from any age demographic. I believe that the right people are the right people, regardless of age.

So while younger generations shouldn’t necessarily be preferred over older ones, it is about finding the right fit more broadly.

I feel we attract a demographic now which is based on great energy, positive attitudes, selflessness and an intense motivation to succeed. These characteristics are essential to any leadership team and ultimately form the basis of company culture. This may mean that more companies and real estate agencies will look to younger team members who embody these qualities.

Just as other forms of diversity in leadership is being embraced in workplaces, so should younger generations be offered leadership positions. This attitude will further entrench an all-encompassing company culture.

It is essential for companies to consider younger generations to become leaders. Younger people are potential future customers, if they aren’t already, so connecting with them early on is key. Some would say millennials speak a different language and leaders need to know how to communicate and relate to various generations.

While there may be challenges in any leadership team, I doubt these will be specifically because of the age of the members. I have personally found there to be a greater level of opportunity as opposed to challenges.

I actively encourage those in real estate as well as companies in other industries to consider accepting younger team members in leadership positions or develop programs that can pave the way for them to move into these positions in the near future to remain relevant today and moving forward.

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Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones is the Chief Executive Officer at Buxton Real Estate Group.