Austria     Belgium     Brazil     Canada     Denmark     Finland     France     Germany     Hungary     Iceland     Ireland     Italy     Luxembourg     The Netherlands     Norway     Poland     Spain     Sweden     Switzerland     UK     USA     

The Age of Outliers (Part 3): Winning Outliers

The impact of generational behavioural trends in the post-COVID period

What is clear is that in any crisis, there is an appreciation of the value of realistic thinking, decision-making based on objective facts, thinking in a systemic way, following the rules, i.e. acting in a reliable, balanced and mostly professional way. Closely linked to this is the existence of credibility, but this in itself is a subjective concept, since every era has its own expectations, and it is in the light of these that someone is said to be credible. COVID has clearly woken everyone up to the need to be more careful with life. Not only do we need to talk about what we will do and want to do, and how we will live our lives, but we need to start to put these ideas into practice. People are cautious, but in business, you can see that new directions lead out of every crisis. It is a very interesting era that has started, because this crisis is incomparable to all the previous ones in terms of psychological effects. In a normal economic crisis, people expect – although they do not like it – that someone will be dominant, quasi-dictatorial, telling them what the right direction is. There are always self-styled leaders who do this favour, and this decisive action is usually just enough to get the market back on track. And then these dominant, often arrogant people are usually put in the parking lot until another crisis hits. But COVID has brought a completely different set of developments.

Huge mistakes

Self-proclaimed experts proliferated in the business space at the start of the crisis. In business development alone, dozens of new “professions” emerged, trying to sell ļmore and more promises. The traditional title of coach has really only been tried by people stuck in the past – with respect, of course, to those very rare but very important exceptions who really do practise the profession at a high level. But today, the more fashionable terms of life coaches, life development experts, business builders, business helpers and the like have been thrown around on various platforms to help managers in trouble. However, they could not wield the sword of true assertiveness, but waited to see who really had what to offer the market. Even if this meant taking a big risk at the time, i.e. not going to a specialist immediately, the smart businesspeople thought that if they bet on the wrong horse now, the consequences could be disastrous. And they were right. As a result, the business development industry has collapsed in much the same way as the media sector did in 2008, losing almost half of its revenues – although no one can give an exact figure, only extrapolate from the figures. In a few weeks, it became apparent that the way out of this crisis would be real professional knowledge, and that businesspeople would think carefully about how to use it. The direction COVID’s decision-making mechanism will take, which it will stick to the generation now growing up, is clearly pointing towards the Expert, which is professional, systemic, not vocal, but with real knowledge in its field. Of course, this also means that the opposite direction to the trend is Individual, which is creative and optimistic. They are little polymaths who know a little bit about everything – but according to them, they have a deep knowledge of everything – and are happy to get smart about technical issues that are completely outside their areas of expertise. This is a serious challenge for The Diplomats, whose generational orientation is essentially Individual. Their ideas and need for innovation in the 2008 crisis perfectly introduced them to a new post-crisis dimension, but it seems that this is what will prevent them from growing further. At least if they are not aware that they need to radically change their approach. In this age group, it can already be seen that the biggest winners, on the other hand, are the ones who are going against the generational trend, i.e. the minority in the Expert direction, who are quieter in their own generation, who have not been able to push themselves or sell themselves to the general public and the older generation. But now they are being listened to, and they have the creativity – generationally influenced – to open up new but realistic dimensions for the business.

Other winners

Looking across generations, we can appreciate the same mechanisms of action. The Precisionists generation, born between 1961 and 1972 and still a major player in the market, is fundamentally Expert-oriented. It is precisely because of this that they generally had a difficult time in the post-2008 crisis. Certainly, as much as they have been pushed aside by the Individual trend of The Diplomats generation, they have a good chance of coming to the fore again. If, for example, someone in this generation is even personally of the Expert persuasion, they could be in for a whole new career era, one that could be more successful than any before it. We have already talked about The Diplomats. But the greatest challenges today are faced by their successors, The Ambitionists. Their basic behaviour, dominance, self-centred thinking, money, and positional focus are not accepted, or even avoided, behavioural mechanisms in the years to come. Moreover, they are now adults for good, as a new generation has already entered the labour market after them, and the saying “they have great potential, we’ll see what happens to them” is no longer true. They are now expected to produce concrete results, as they are no longer “beginners”. Many of them are now confronted with what they may or may not have achieved of the big dream they had for themselves. This can lead to serious mental issues. The newest members of the labour market are the Generation deemed “The Followers”, born between 1997 and 2008, who before the crisis were also known as a kind of “enchanted” or “artistic” generation, because they have a strong claim to the values that generations around the world are now beginning to embrace. Such as work-life balance, or sociability, support for our fellow human beings, career and material goods. They, on the other hand, represent a Supporter trend in their behavioural mechanisms, i.e. they are followers. Very importantly, it is already apparent that they will mostly follow the “outliers” and will not accept the generation immediately above them. However, they can be a very high potential replacement for The Diplomats generation, as the last generation of constant complainers and malcontents can be replaced by a more manageable generation, more intensely moving towards human values. Any Follower who has the right level of dominance in their personality, i.e. Ruler character, can expect to be a very successful adult.

Of course, it is important to reiterate at the end that these generational behavioural trends can indeed translate into generalisations, so it is important to draw specific conclusions with the help of a professional. What is certain, however, is that these trends should not be ignored if we want to be successful in this fierce competition that is now coming.