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Generation Flux and Learning Agility – What’s in Your Leadership Backpack?


© andreusK - Fotolia.com

© andreusK – Fotolia.com


In my work with leaders, we talk A LOT about change. One’s attitude towards change can either propel their career or stymie them. Generation Flux is one approach to change.

The term was first coined in a 2012 Fast Company article by Robert Safian, where he wrote: “This is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one: What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates—and even enjoys—recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.”

To succeed in Generation Flux one needs to be agile, fluid, mobile, social, global, open and adaptable. In a recent talk, Safian pointed out that the average time in a job today is only 4.4 years. What a difference that will make for the organizations whose employees come and go so quickly. Today’s workforce is truly dynamic and evolving.

He mentioned Raina Kumra, CEO of Juggernaut, who in her thirties has already accomplished so much. Featured on the cover of Fast Company as a leader of Generation Flux, she represents the future of an adaptable career in business. “You keep throwing things into your backpack,” she says, “and eventually you’ll have everything in your tool kit.”

That image resonated with me because I am a huge advocate of leaders being learners; learners are always collecting experiences, adventures and knowledge. Who knows what tools you will need for tomorrow’s job? Why not push yourself today and get some training, stand up for that new challenging assignment, or volunteer to lead that new business unit?

It is when we are in the space of not knowing what to do, that we figure out what to do. Victoria V. Swisher of Korn/Ferry calls that “learning agility.” When things are ambiguous a person learns more because they must create structure from chaos. They must determine what the most important thing is to do.

They must get really honest with themselves about their priorities, passion and values, and those of their organization. That struggle is what nets them the skills they need. They rise from that ambiguous job confident and clear. They may be exhausted, but they’re excited at what they accomplished.

Half the fun is making up the rules. The answer to, “What shall we do?” is revealed once the leader gets clear around his or her purpose. That clarity leads to determining the right people they need on the team, the products and services they should offer, and the systems needed to deliver it all.

Angela Blanchard is CEO of Neighborhood Centers Inc., a Houston-based nonprofit that provides services for 340,000 people along the Gulf Coast. Her favorite phrase is FIO – “Figure it Out.”

Every week her organization faces new problems for which roadmaps to a solution don’t yet exist and resources are never ample. She needs people to be capable, creative and agile. How true that when people step up to a challenge and just figure things out, they learn more and bring that agility towards learning to the next big task.

If you hire smart people, they should be able to figure it out. These agile leaders continually step out of their comfort zone, knowing that is when they learn the most.

When is the last time you needed the agility to figure out something new because the situation was nothing you or anyone else had faced before? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or email.

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