It’s well and truly started. The early Baby Boomers have hit retirement age and they’re starting to leave the workforce.
It’s a dramatic shift in leadership that will benefit some more than others, and see organisations succeed and fail based on how they respond.
Last week, IBM managing director Andrew Stevens told a Young Einsteins seminar in Sydney that the leaders of the future will have an ability to exploit disruptions as they occur.
He said success in an economy that leverages high-speed broadband will depend on an individual’s ability to continually transform. His key tip for want-to-be leaders was to get creative in adjusting to change and moving yourself forward. Do this, he said, while always staying true to your core values and beliefs.
“Get involved in the disruption of the day and ride those waves,” he said. “Be part of it so you’re in control, rather than having it imposed on you.”
We all know plenty of brilliant, young women who are more than capable of “riding the waves”, particularly women who’ve left high-profile and high-powered jobs to establish their own businesses. As the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry found in its recent survey, more than half of the current businesses started by women were started in or since 2007.
So will the workplaces of the future adequately support the needs of women to retain them longer, given the talent holes Baby Boomers will leave behind? Will employers adjust their age-old thinking on what constitutes the working week and exactly when and where women will work on their disruptive ideas? Or will women continue to leave their employers to establish their own businesses – where they can determine, in their own time, just how they’ll exploit their own flexible thinking?
Back in 2006, a then 20-something Ryan Health ignited generational warfare with his tome, Please Just F* Off: It’s Our Turn Now. The catchy title made it difficult to forget.
It wasn’t a book about young women, but rather Heath’s ‘My Generation’ (anyone born after 1970) who he said were great imaginative problem solvers with an inherent ability to adapt to change (albeit with the “attention span of fruit flies”), compared to baby boomers who are inflexible, insular, and materialistic, among other things (his claims, not mine).
But what if the Baby Boomers really did f* off? Workplaces are not currently equipped to deal with the gender shift that needs to occur on order to make-up for the demographic one that’s happening right now.
Women will, however, continue to creatively disrupt the economy.