Managing a Multigenerational Workforce with Scott De Long

Apr 13, 2024

Leading a multigenerational workforce is becoming increasingly complex. Each generation brings a unique set of skills, perspectives, and expectations to the table.


Dr. Scott De Long, a serial entrepreneur with a doctorate in leadership, shares successful strategies to bridge the generational divide on this week’s episode of The Enlightened Executive.


In today’s business world, effective leadership requires more than just issuing orders and expecting obedience.


The command-and-control approach is ineffective compared to leadership that empowers and inspires. This is the essence of my recent conversation with Scott, whose insights on leadership are reshaping how we think about steering our teams towards success.


In this episode, we discussed the wisdom of connecting with multi-generational team members, understanding their motivations, and leveraging the strengths that each generation brings to the table.


Practicing Principled Leadership


Scott promotes the concept of “principled leadership,” an intriguing blend of transformational, authentic, and servant leadership styles. At its core, this method is built on pillars of humility, empathy, and vulnerability—traits that resonate deeply with modern workforces.


The idea is simple yet revolutionary: lead by asking, not by telling. His “Ask, Not Tell” philosophy is central to Scott’s leadership approach and turns conventional hierarchy on its head, favoring dialogue over directives.


Holding people accountable, challenging assumptions, and reframing issues are central to this style of leadership. It invites a collaborative environment where team members are seen as partners in the leadership journey.


  • Action tip: In your next team meeting, instead of laying out a plan, pose a challenge and invite solutions, such as “Where do our competitors excel and what’s one thing we can do to combat this?”. Give open-ended questions and encourage brainstorming to harvest innovative solutions from unexpected corners. Not only will this stimulate engagement, but it will also foster a sense of ownership and commitment over mere compliance.


Nurturing the New Generational Blend


Understanding these differences is crucial for harnessing the collective potential of our teams. These younger generations are hungry for growth, and it is our job as leaders to harness that ambition and channel it into success.


Creating a space where young minds feel heard is critical. According to Scott, recognizing their contributions is not just nice—it is an essential strategy for fostering loyalty and infusing your team with fresh perspectives.


  • Action step: Assign mentorship roles to experienced team members and encourage cross-generational mentoring, too. What can the younger generation teach us about what matters in their world? This reciprocal relationship not only builds knowledge but also fortifies intergenerational respect and collaboration.


Embracing Vulnerability as Strength


Often seen as a weakness in cutthroat corporate cultures, Scott flips the script to show vulnerability as a cornerstone of trust and authenticity.


For most people, leaders who show their human side are not only more relatable but also more influential.


This does not mean exposing all your insecurities; it is about honest communication and the willingness to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers.


  • Action tip: At your next team gathering, share a personal story, one in which you struggled, that relates to a challenge at hand. This act of vulnerability can build a stronger connection and encourage others to open up, fostering a climate where trust is the currency.


Incorporating these leadership principles is not merely a tactical choice; it is a deliberate and strategic shift that can transform organizational culture and performance to one of continuous growth.


Leadership is evolving, and those who adopt a principled, engaging, and inclusive management style are better positioned for success. Join us in exploring these concepts and discover how to apply them within your unique organizational context.


Scott also shares…

  • How to recognize and celebrate the potential perceived as entitlement in new leaders.
  • How to provide a clear pathway for growth and aspiration.
  • The value of “leading up” by learning from younger generations and integrating their insights into our leadership practices.


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