Research Paper By Sandra Retzer
(Life Coaching, CHINA)
This paper takes a closer look at what is driving Generation Y in China, how Generation X is perceiving their expectation and how coaching can help manage actual and future leadership developments and challenges in the Gen X leader – Gen Y employee relationship.
It is based on original in-depth interviews (Appendix 1) and online surveys (Appendix 2) answered by eighty Chinese Gen Y and Gen X living in Beijing.
The global work environment has gone through fundamental changes in the past years. This can be seen in the growing complexity of our work content as well as the accelerated change processes.
Social influences like an increasing unemployment rate, a growing competitive environment, an increasing internationalization of economic relationships1, a growing demand of employees towards flat hierarchies and increased responsibility in the workplace promote a rethinking of managerial approach2.
But how should the manager of the future and the future leadership style look like? Rolf Wunderer and Petra Dick summarized important aspects in their article on the future of human resource management3.
The future leader has to be visionary and they must work on goals and strategies with their team in a trusting environment. We understand leadership as teamwork. Leaders have to be inspiring, motivating, should enable change and strengthen group cohesion. This goal can be reached through aspiring to emulate idols, successful communication, common visions and values in the organizational culture.
Looking at leadership styles in China, the predominant style is still characterized by centralized decision-making, hierarchies, poor communication, an ideological and authoritarian style of leadership.
Following the tremendous economic change in China today, it is the 2nd largest economy, business executives are living in challenging and inspiring times. In such a dynamic and complex context, we expect to see great variations in new management models and leadership styles. There is a new breed of Chinese managers which have been influenced by Western leadership styles through foreign exposure either in China or abroad that yearn for freedom and have the desire to voice their opinions, causing them to be viewed as insubordinate.
This generation is called “BA LING HOU” (八零后) which stands for post 80s generation or Generation Y.
Chinese Gen Ys are children born under China’s one-child policy. This policy was introduced in the People´s Republic of China in 1978 and applies to first-born children after 1979. According to Nandani Lynton and Hogh Thogersen4, this generation, born between 1980 and 1990, already makes up more than 50% of China´s current working-age population and is flooding into middle management and team leadership roles5.
Today´s senior leaders – the so-called Generation X – born in the 60s and 70s are still dominating top management positions in China.
2. Gen X leader and Gen Y employee relationships – traits and challenges
2.1. Who are Gen X and Gen Y in China? And what´s so special about them? 1990-1998 2002-2008 1960Gen X is born Gen Y is born Gen Y enters University Gen Y enters workforce 1980-2012