Monday, February 11, 2013

Three X-Factors in X-Gen Leadership

Transformation occurs at the intersection of art, science and economics.

X-Gen is like sandwich generation between baby-boomer and Y-Gen though it’s an underdog and less populated generation, it doesn’t mean X-Gen leadership will make less impact, as a matter of fact, it can make a significant influence compared to older generations, due to a few key ‘X-factors’.

On the surface: ‘X-factor’ has been defined as ‘a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome, and it’s a noteworthy special talent or quality.’; in substance, X-Gen well fits in such transformational leadership journey at today’s accelerated culture, unprecedented business dynamic, and ambiguous world, due to three key X-factors:

1. ‘Multi’-Factors

Compared to Baby Boomer, X-Gen experienced economic downfalls, from irrational exuberance to financial turmoil, from internet bubble to corporate restructure, they get set back, face difficulties, taste the failures, more frequently than baby boomer, thus, they become more insightful, cogitative, flexible and resilient; X-Gen leadership may embrace multitude of leadership purposes, colors, and themes:

  • Multi-Dimensional Factor: X-Gen grows in more diversified and open world, unlike older generation to see the world as black & white, with shade of grey in between; X-Gen is more objective, observing, inclusive or even more mature, to embrace full-color spectrum; If Baby Boomers may prefer to think business as a sport game, competing for win is all game about, and there’s only one winner usually; then X-Gen is more collaborative to lead in such multi-generational, multicultural, and multi-devices, digital world. They are not a single-dimensional leader, but multidimensional thinkers; they appreciate multiple values and see the world via a multidimensional lens.

  • Multiple-Choices: X-Gen is also a generation to appreciate choices and options, shows flexibility and resilience. Some may see them lack aspiration or less competitive, on the contrary, their leadership not just intend to reach height, but prefer to get insight; they are less louder but deeper; they might not be muscle-driven, but mind-oriented leaders, they seems to be timid, but full of courage; they make choice based on value, not compete just for win; they less respect hierarchy, and more open for innovation & diversity. It’s a generation love to make choices.

  • Multipolar World: X-Gen may also be right- fit leaders in multi-polar word, from digitalization to globalization, there are both opportunities and risks co-existing around the globe, and the world becomes so inter-dependent and interconnected, X-Gen leaders will practice the power of pull, unify the divergent wisdom, see the world with progressive, not through defensive view; appreciate the difference without bias, they need be cautiously positive, rather than blindly optimistic or negatively realistic; They are better strategic thinkers to leverage choices and make long-term decisions. 

2. "Trans"-Factors

“Trans" is derived from Latin and as a prefix means "across, on the far side, and beyond.” "trans" connotes a bridging characteristic, thus, transformational leaders practice forward-looking, future-connecting thought leadership. X-Gen leadership bridges older generation and younger generation; bridges the industrial era and the digital age, bridges the “black & white” world and colorful globe; bridge the hierarchical business structure and the collaborative social organization. 

  • Transformational Leadership: Instead of competing for winning only, transformational leaders empower and energize others to pursue a worthy cause. The business game needs to become more purpose-driven, it’s about positive competition, and creative destruction, X-Gen as transformational leaders are needed to give people hope, elicit their best efforts, wow their customers and drive sustainable performance through the roof. 
  • Transcendent Knowledge: Transformation occurs at the intersection of art, science and economics. The intersection creates a combined societal value. Timing is everything: Transcendent X-Gen leaders have timely characteristics to handle ambiguity, deal with complexity & uncertainty and identify themselves as a change agent. Increasingly, leadership is about creating a context for innovation and inclusion in the face of ambiguity and the unexpected. 

3. “Eco”-Factors

Besides economic uncertainty, the world also faces new ecological challenges such as climate changes or energy deficiency. All these circumstances shape X-Gen’s flexible leadership mentality with key “Eco” factors:

  • Ecosystem: Organizations need to behave as organisms. An organism is a hierarchical assembly of systems working together as a single functional unit, often thought of as a self-organizing being. To react in a controlled, agile, measured way. This requires a holistic approach that encompasses all of these disciplines. Multi-disciplinary X-Gen leaders start holistic thinking to perceive “wholeness” of business ecosystem, breakdown business functional silos, synthesize cross-disciplinary information, look at a way of managing the whole ecosystem because you can't pick away at it piece by piece, you have to truly start being coordinated and managing resources as a system
  • Economic Discipline: Many organizations or economy as a whole experienced recession, numerous industry sectors also have been through the “lost decade”, thus, X-Gen leaders do need practice economic discipline, exercise innovation frugality. Cloud-based solution (X-AS-A-Service) can become effective X-Gen secret weapon in cutting cost and improving process efficiency, flexibility, elasticity, and resilience.   


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