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Adapting Leadership Styles Across Generations

The roofing industry 40 years ago is not the same roofing industry it is today.

Whether you are the manual laborer or the person leading the team, I have learned every position is vital. Each individual brings a new dynamic and a much-need skillset to the team.

My Father, as the second generation in our family-run business has always upheld his managing style in a kind manner, as it was the norm in his generation. His style comes from the old-school thought, “You just do what you’re told, work hard and don’t ask questions”. Interestingly enough, I have watched him slowly adapt his style of leadership to cater to our younger generations learning styles. He, himself is also realizing the roofers of his day are different than today’s roofers in terms of how they want to be led/managed. Personally, my leadership style as the third generation has evolved into more of a leading style as opposed to a managing style.

Most people today want to know where they are headed in a particular job position and truly try to understand why they do the things they do in any given task. Even though I do have to manage our team members in certain situations, I try to encourage my team to make their own decisions. I have found my team members respond best if I can guide them by listening, answering their questions and allowing them to come to their own conclusions. They learn new things and become more efficient in their day to day tasks, ultimately finding the best solutions best for each individual job/project.

My generation is all about wanting to become more than just who we are told to be, learning how to do things better than what has been done before, and exercising effective communication methods. I believe in empowerment, not just for myself, but for the team I lead every day. When people hear the word empowerment, they take ownership and have a stronger sense of pride at the task in hand. They are more apt to accept their mistakes, learn from them, and thrive.

If you are leading a team with a multi-generational workforce, or just being bold in who you are, it is important to have respect for what the generations in your business have accomplished before you. They have plowed the path for us and our approach to integrating new ideas can result in a strong team who acknowledges each other’s strengths and creates a positive team environment.