In our previous article on Future Organization and Leadership, we talked about the great system we are in and where this system will evolve towards in order to better foresee the future, and while talking about this, we made use of K-Waves, which was put forward by the Russian scientist economist Kondratieff and then developed with the contributions of various scientists. In this article, we will try to understand Human Dynamics, another important parameter that will affect the future and thus transform Organizations and Leadership understanding, remembering that there is almost a chicken and egg relationship between human dynamics and system dynamics.
Dr. Jean Twenge, an American psychologist, says: “Man is more like the age in which he lives than he is like his father.” Important national and international events that individuals experience during their youth lead to the formation of a common consciousness and perception. The common consciousness and perception formed can shape future behaviors, attitudes, tendencies and preferences. Therefore, each new generation has different characteristics such as values, perceptions, attitudes and behaviors, different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. The spirit of each era favors the emergence of people with certain common traits in general, but these traits can be seen in different shades in each person. An important underlying reason for this is that external factors affect individuals at different rates in different contexts, but more importantly, the emotions, thoughts and behaviors that each individual will develop in the face of the event they experience differ due to the uniqueness of each person. Mevlana’s statement, “I learned to think, then I learned to think in patterns, then I learned that healthy thinking is thinking by breaking the patterns.” is an important assessment that we need to deal with issues by putting them in the containers of terminology and methodology in order to be able to analyze, but then, after carefully analyzing the issues in order to be able to think healthily, this time we need to free our thinking from patterns. With the decisive points in the theory of generations, we can aim to reach a synthesis by taking very important clues in the profiling of the future of the business world, putting aside all these reductionist approaches and its patterns at the point of healthy thinking.
If we look briefly at the generations that are still in business life, we first see the “Baby Boomers” generation, although their rates are very low. 2. We can say that the most prominent characteristics of the generation, so named because of the approximately one billion babies born between 1940 and 1960 after World War II, are that they are a generation that is austere and emotional, has a high sense of loyalty, is loyal to authority, uses technology when necessary, and is loyal to their traditions and culture.
Generation X members prioritize individualism, are sensitive to social problems, are combative, think globally, are committed to their jobs but take care to maintain the balance between work and private life, and are tolerant and assuring of different lifestyles and cultural diversity. The “live to work” mentality of the parents of the Baby Boom generation has turned into “work to live” for Generation X.
Generation Y is named after the letter “Y” in the English word “WHY”. As they search for the answer to the question “why”, they refrain from doing things in the business world for which they do not understand the reason. They are more competent in technology than Generation X. Two thirds of the members of this generation were introduced to computers before the age of five. It is the first generation that grew up with smartphones, laptops and social media. They use technology more when communicating. Some organizations have had to write “walk to talk” on their walls to increase face-to-face communication at work. Digital technology has a decisive impact on the characteristics, values and expectations of this generation.
The most important characteristics of Generation Y are that they are individualistic, freedom-loving and entrepreneurial. They are clear in their minds about what they don’t want, but they find it difficult to decide what they do want. It is a generation that does not like to work as much as previous generations and believes that they have to work to live. They live for today and do not plan for the long term. Another characteristic of this generation, which dislikes rules and authority, consumes faster and behaves dissatisfied, is their high self-confidence. However, this does not always mean that they have equally high equity. They enjoy being the center of attention. Their ambitions are high.
Today, the generation that numerically dominates the business world is seen as Generation Y. Generations that will dominate business life in the near future are seen as Generation Y and Generation Z, and in the distant future as Generation Alpha.
The most important point that distinguishes Generation Z from other generations is that they were born and raised with digital technology. Generation Z are the children of Generations X and Y, and are more likely to value their parents’ opinions more than other generations, and to care about and listen to their ideas. Together with millennials, they are the most active social media users worldwide.
They do not know what life is like without the internet. They use smart devices at an advanced skill level. They simultaneously listen to music, write blogs, keep track of their e-mails, browse social media networks, exchange messages, watch movies, etc. on their smart devices. Generation Z can work in both the real and virtual world. They can navigate between these two worlds quickly and continuously. They can easily access and share the data they need. In business life, they tend to work in jobs that are far from routine, with high creativity and technological-digital content. They prefer not to work in companies where they do not want to work, where they cannot establish a meaningful connection, where they are not paid for giving their time, which is their most precious resource, and where they do not have the opportunity to develop and realize themselves.
They have a high capacity to access information. They not only consume knowledge, but also have the ability to produce and control it. They have the highest hand-eye-ear harmony and motor skills among the generations. Although they have high hand-eye-ear compatibility, their focusing time is quite short compared to other generations.
Compared to their predecessors, they are less committed to an ideology, national values, traditions, religions and even to their own distinct identities, but they like multi-identity more than previous generations. They may prefer to exist in digital environments with identities other than their real life identities, which even their relatives may not know. Their low attachment to identity and its constituent elements, on the other hand, supports them in forming a meta-identity, seeing themselves as “citizens of the world” and “part of the universe”. Likewise, although they may feel less loyalty to the organization they are in than the previous generation, they may prefer to be in structures that support them to develop themselves, have a high meaning and support them in self-realization. 6. The environmental sensitivity brought by the wave and the approaches of sustainability for people, sustainability for the environment, and the erosion and transcendence of the boundaries between individual welfare and social welfare will increase the expectations of Generation Z from their organizations in terms of social welfare. While the Baby Boomers’ question “what can I contribute to the organization?” turned into “what can I contribute to the organization?” for the X’ers and “what can the organization contribute to me?” for the Millennials, this question turned into “what can my organization contribute to the environment and humanity?” for Generation Z.
While Generation Z’s expectations from organizations force them to become more “social-companies”, their expectations from leadership are such that they will transform today’s understanding of leadership. With this generation, leadership will be expected more from managers in organizations than from religious leaders and politicians. It is thought that they would like to see a “facilitator” rather than a manager, to be able to communicate in a sincere and simple way as in all areas of life, and to have servant leaders who manage with a coaching style at the point of self-realization and finding their life purpose. With this generation, it is thought that reverse mentoring activities will increase in organizations.
When we look at the last generation of Alphas, considering the technological developments and the characteristics of Alphas, the education system needs to change fundamentally in order for Alphas, who are all students as of 2021 and have not yet entered the working life, to adapt to their age. Researchers believe that traditional educational methods are not equipped to meet the intellectual, social and emotional needs of this new group of students due to the characteristics of the Alpha generation. It is thought that especially teachers who lack technological knowledge will have serious problems with the Alpha generation.
From the first years of their lives, members of Generation Alpha have become one with technology, which is an integral part of their daily lives, and with the digital world that influences their lifestyles and behaviors. Generation Alpha is entrepreneurial, creative, dynamic, rule-breaking, dislike authority, fond of independence and addicted to technology. It is thought that the representatives of this generation will largely prefer professions related to technology, exhibit leader-oriented behaviors, and meet all their personal and work-related needs from the digital world since they do not like face-to-face communication. New professions such as Youtuber, blogger, influencer are already very popular among Alphas. Some Alphas even earn serious income from these channels.
In the future, the question of authority and the Alpha generation, which dislikes rules and authority, may come up. In the future, it is an important issue how members of this generation will behave in their communication with their managers in a hierarchically structured organizational environment. For this reason, managers of organizations need to focus on their management styles and develop the necessary competencies, especially in terms of managing by “Leading and Coaching”, during the period of managing Generation Z and internalize servant leadership approaches and make them a corporate culture.
With the “servant leadership” approach that Generation Z expects from their managers, the 6. In the Alpha generation, where the effects of the wave will be more visible, in a future where matter is highly manipulable by humans, where post-human examples are slowly becoming visible examples in the course of daily life from the laboratory dimension, more spiritual (inner) needs will increase, the relationship with matter will be freed from the context of need, and more understanding-oriented, more inclusive, unifying and more spiritual leaders will emerge with the task of “producing leaders for the world”, which was placed on the shoulders of companies with the previous generation.