When I was a kid, I’d notice that my dad would often have a random mint or piece of gum on the counter next to his keys and wallet. My kid brain did not understand why he hadn’t eaten it. (It’s candy!!)
In this and in other ways I have become my dad. I don’t eat the candy right away either (unless it is a snickers bar or chocolate chip cookie, then all bets are off). Young people often have a strong appetite for sweets. Adults sometimes lose it.
I see a similar dynamic in organizations. The younger people are often hungry to try new things. The more seasoned members of the organization are sometimes less hungry for change. This is not a “millennials are like this and Boomers are like that” comment. It is an observation that senior leaders can sometimes be more traditional and conservative than less experienced team members. Perhaps they fear they have more to lose or perhaps because they have an emotional investment in how things are because they are the ones who established the current strategies and systems in the first place. The less seasoned people in the organization are often free of these restraints to thinking.
I bring this up not to push senior leaders to take more chances (which they might), but rather to help these leaders realize that the appetite for mixing things up and making changes that could have large potential impact on the organization may be stronger in the younger ranks of the team. How will leaders let this drive for improvement be expressed? Will they give this group clear ways that they can express it in the current organization or will they subconsciously encourage them to express that creative drive somewhere else, like at a competitor?