As the generational divide grows wider, leadership styles are undergoing a transformation. 

The ability to achieve desired results from a team comes down to effective leadership. And according to Jason Price, ANZ VP and General Manager of IBM, it is a “humanistic” approach that will help leaders better understand their people, and adjust their styles accordingly. 

Jason Price, VP ANZ and General Manager, IBM

“To me, a humanistic understanding includes a number of different things. It means understanding that each and every person has different motivations for coming into work,” says Price. 

“I have found a mix of colleagues to be motivated by rewards, while others were motivated by working in a team or having flexible work hours and a work life balance. What motivates staff isn’t set in stone and it can change.”

The transitioning wants and needs of employees has not always been a priority in Price’s leadership. Earlier in his career he describes his style as “revenue and deal-focused”. 

This only took him so far though, when managing millennials.

“We are a sales organisation and there’s a natural inclination to be competitive but ultimately this can have a detrimental effect when colleagues feel themselves being pitted against each other.”

Price tells Which-50 that upon managing a group of millennial graduates, he was “horrified” to hear from a colleague that he was deemed as “unapproachable”.

“That was the first time I had ever received feedback like that. It was at that point I realised that I needed to change the way I think and understand millennials.”

This pivotal moment in his career led Price to change the way he approached his management style, working to get to know his staff individually, their preferences and their interests.  Building rapport ultimately came down to building trust, which he describes as key to empowering a team to do their best work.

“Once I began to understand and build trust with my millennial staff, I changed my approach to management and immediately saw results.”

Price describes a conversation at a work event, when one of his millennial, chinos-wearing, no-socks-sporting employees boldly claimed he would close a particularly large deal by the end of the quarter. Price remembers telling his junior that if he closed that deal by the end of the quarter, he would never wear socks on Fridays again.

Four years later, Price says he still doesn’t wear socks on Fridays.

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