Leadership – are we victims of generational curses?

By Shalini Gadhia
Let’s look at how our past could impact our current practices. We all stem from backgrounds that hold certain beliefs. A good and long known example is ‘men are suited in the office’ and ‘women perform better in the kitchen’. These have actually turned into ‘generational curses’ as they inhibit our progress in way or another. These go unnoticed as they are etched in our ‘normal’ ways of thinking and behaving.

Let us see how these have an impact on our current leadership practices.

One major area that is usually limited by these generational curses is creativity and innovation. Many leaders come from cultures where families have very structured ways of doing things. Elders’ ways are usually respected and followed to the letter. The upcoming generation is not permitted to think for themselves and throw in new ideas. This results in lack of creativity and innovation which in turn trickles down into the workplace. A workplace where leaders cannot nurture creativity is definitely not set up for long term success. One way of breaking this would be to read about how known global leaders constantly encourage creativity and innovation in their businesses.

Another issue that is carried on to the work place is gender bias. Various leaders have grown up in families where ‘men are not reliable’ or ‘women cannot carry out certain tasks’. This therefore will translate to a continuous bias towards team members based on gender perceptions. This can however be overcome by understanding that expectations from different genders should be treated differently at home and in the workplace. This will make teams feel more trusted and pave way for optimum performance.

Hiring practices are largely influenced by the so called generational curses. If a leader’s origins have a dominating factor, then they are more likely to hire people who follow them. Such leaders will never prefer team members who have leadership traits in them. They will always want to be the boss and make sure everyone listens to them. Any opposers will be despised. To break this ‘curse’, it is essential for a leader to understand that optimum performance only thrives in an environment where a team’s input is valued. This can be infused by way of training these leaders on embracing a more collaborative approach.

Generational curses go a long way in shaping our perception. Our beliefs about society drag with us to our professional context where we continue viewing people the same way. A common example is ‘people from coastal towns are laid back’. What happens when a leader has no choice but to hire someone from a coastal town? He will keep believing this and may lead to mistrust and a difference in treatment. A way to deal with this would be to understand that personalities vary from person to person. Being enlightened about the current intercultural interactions allows wide space for people to be different despite their origins.

A great example of how generational behaviors impact an individual’s success is Richard Branson. In his book ‘Screw it, Let’s do it’, he clearly states how his mother’s hard working attitude made him the successful person he is today.

We can learn from our families’ behaviors and turn them around to be blessings from curses.

The author is a marketing professional with 10 years of work experience across various industries.