Lead and manage in a disruptive demographic context
The United States as we know it is changing: about 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day; southern states account for more than half of the country’s population growth; fertility rates are falling, especially among white women; and people of color are the fastest growing demographic, says James H. Johnson Jr., a demographic expert and professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Johnson gleaned this information primarily from the American Community Survey and the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
“The disruption is very predictable,” he said. “But you’re going to lose your shirt in the market if you don’t understand how disruptive demographic changes are transforming your business.”
Johnson will address the topic “Leading and Managing in an Age of Disruptive Demographics and ‘Certain Uncertainties’” on June 7 at the AICPA Nonprofit Industry Conference. This topic is vital, he says, as organizations must deal with these population changes and adapt accordingly by becoming more equitable and inclusive, both internally and externally. “The winners will be those who are able to understand the nature of these changes,” he said. He added that it would be helpful to develop models of engagement with a more diverse population.
Johnson describes three major demographic changes: the overwhelming population growth in the southern states – namely, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia; the “browning and graying of America”, due to the transformation of racial / ethnic makeup and skin tone, and the increasing life expectancy of baby boomers and pre-baby boomers as fertility rates decline; and more school-aged children living with their grandparents, many of whom are full-time caregivers, often due to family difficulties.
These demographic shifts need to be recognized by higher education institutions – as the university population is changing as well – and by business leaders who need to ensure their employee base reflects demographic shifts, Johnson said.
“First of all, leaders and managers don’t always look like demographic change, so they may need to diversify at their senior levels; otherwise, people might not buy their products and services due to equity issues. and inclusion, ”he said.
Many large accounting firms, for example, have developed diversity and inclusion roadmaps in their talent pool. “If you need CPA talent, you can’t say ‘business as usual’ when the world around you changes,” he added.
Leaders in the public and private sectors also need to be proficient in several areas, Johnson said:
- First, he said, they need to be able to leverage “big data analytics” to monitor the demographic shifts that are happening, especially when it comes to recruiting talent.
- Leaders must also adopt an “entrepreneurial mindset,” with the ability to think creatively about how to respond to any crisis that may arise, be it COVID-19, nationwide unrest or even the inclement weather conditions, he said.
- Leaders must also possess “contextual intelligence,” an “acute sensitivity to the social, political, technological, economic and demographic factors of change that will likely define the future,” Johnson co-wrote in a white paper last year.
- In addition, he said, leaders must “be able to move from streets to suites without missing a beat,” adjusting the way they communicate according to location and audience. “The way you communicate will vary depending on where you are, so ‘cultural elasticity’ means you understand the codes of doing business in these different contexts,” Johnson said.
- Leaders must also intentionally extend their “knowledge networks” outside their comfort zones and not just collaborate or mingle with self-reflective people. “If you only hang out with people who are like you, no new learning happens,” he noted. Johnson suggests joining social, economic, and ethnically diverse networks.
- Finally, it pushes leaders to “be nimble and flexible”, to reinvent themselves and learn new ways of doing things, and to be “courageous” listeners and communicators by appreciating and empathizing with points of view. alternative view.
“The new standard is some uncertainty,” Johnson summed up. “What we are talking about today may be totally different tomorrow.”
Johnson’s presentation on this hot topic is a glimpse into his own life and learning. He grew up on a tobacco farm outside of Greenville, North Carolina, at a time when segregation was very real and the black and white parts of the city were divided by railroad tracks, the Kenan reported. – UNC’s Flagler Business School on its website.
But Johnson’s parents and grandmother helped encourage him to succeed. He co-founded the Global Scholars Academy, a K-12 school in Durham, North Carolina, for underprivileged youth. Johnson is also Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at Kenan-Flagler Business School, which focuses on disruptive demographic and economic trends and how to cope with those changes. He is now a renowned speaker on this topic, and his activities and focus are his way of getting things done.
–Cheryl Meyer is a freelance writer based in California. To comment on this article or suggest an idea for another article, contact Ken Tysiac ([email protected]), the JofAeditorial director of.