ipad guide on newsstandHave you ever thought about the irony of rows of ‘How-to-use your-iPad’ type magazines that grace every newsstand?

How come there is a market for £10 (paper) magazine guides for using the £500 (tablet) touch screen magazine/guide you’ve just acquired?!

It’s a great illustration that the preferences which have been shaped over our lifetime can run pretty deep. If we grew up with paper magazines, the chances are, we will still hold a strong preference for that medium, even when we have the will and the opportunity to adopt modern alternatives such as a tablet. Anyone own up to preferring a written to-do list in a paper notebook over an online version? Or a paper diary rather than something online?

This is a great lesson for leaders and organisations.

What other preferences (or even biases) created during formative experiences subconsciously influence our leadership behaviour or decisions at work?

Our attitude to working from home or Starbucks? Flexible hours? Job-shares? Matrix organisational charts? Direct, informal communication between junior and senior staff? These are all aspects of modern business that most organisations have adopted. But if you are a Gen Xer or Boomer like me, you might still feel a tad uneasy about some of them, no matter how much you strive to embrace technology ad new ways of working. Could this unease impact your leadership behaviour and make you less effective?

Take a moment to look for these preferences/biases in your workplace. I bet your (younger) team could point a few out if you ask them!

By Simon Walker. Simon speaks and consults widely on the future of work and leadership and can be contacted at simon@simonwalker.org

More from Simon Walker