by Dave Geenans, Inhance Leadership

Even with all the leadership writings and seminars over the last several decades, business leadership continues to make only incremental gains while the world around us is shifting exponentially. Technology is one of the catalysts driving these huge shifts. The work force of the 21st Century, or "zoomers," is the other.

What are "zoomers?" "Zoomers" are the collection of generational bands following the "boomers." There has been something resembling a tectonic shift in the values of "zoomers." For the business able to recognize the shift, harness it, and release it, a long, sustainable competitive advantage awaits.

"Zoomers" are rebels, not renegades. They have a purpose or cause in their rebellion and their crosshairs are zeroed-in on the institution of business, among other institutions that only vaguely mirror truth. They are seeking the truth about why your business exists. They know an unmet need or purpose preceded the profit of your enterprise. Yet they don't often see leaders speak to and prioritize this unmet need above all things, even profit! Profit is a by-product of meeting an unmet need well, not the purpose of your business.

Business leaders must change the way they think. Try this new definition and these new lenses for leadership on for size: 
Leadership is the art of optimizing cooperation. Your ability to get someone to help you in the work, put in its simplest form, is the reason for or goal of leadership. Leadership is not required if the work requires just you. As soon as the work requires more than just you, leadership is required.

Don't under-estimate how important or how different these lenses are in engaging, leveraging, and releasing the power of the "zoomers." Many decisions that business leaders make today consistent with the institution of business do not fit into this new definition of and these new lenses for leadership:

  • Trust is paramount to the "zoomers," yet leaders regularly make decisions that violate or diminish trust.
  • Integrity and character are key to gaining the cooperation of others. Fake has no future with "zoomers."
  • Doing the right thing always trumps doing things right with this workforce. Unfortunately, what is right is often contrary to legal prudence. Courage is required.
  • Profit is a by-product of something done well, and purpose is found in that “something done well,” not in profit.

Leadership as the art of optimizing cooperation can be learned and it is a basis from which leadership can be multiplied in your business enterprise. Make leadership about optimizing cooperation and reap the benefits of yet unforeseen results through "zoomers."

If you would like to learn more about how to lead the "zoomer" workforce, contact Inhance Leadership at (513) 254-3980 or