How Leaders Can Bridge the Generation Gap


What do millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers have in common? The values we share about leadership.

So many studies and articles detailing the unique aspects of millennials - how we think, work and lead differently compared to other generations - are true to some degree. I write about those truths in my book, The Original Millennial. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time educating groups and audiences about generational differences, and more specifically, leadership.

However, recent data suggests that when it comes to leadership, the various generations have strikingly similar ideas about what's important. That data suggests an important commonality in the ways we want to lead and be led. In fact, I went into great depth about it in the book with an explanation about how much millennials have in common with older generations. The only major difference in how millennials view leadership in comparison to boomers and Xers is the influence and exposure we've had to cultural change at the turn of the millennium. With this in mind...

How do we shift the narrative to bridge that gap between generations?

We have to accept that:

We are in a knowledge economy. This surge in acquiring and monetizing knowledge encourages leadership by commitment. All generations are now engaged and integrated in the workplace to achieve a common goal, and committed to bringing their very best to the table.

We all thrive on competitive advantage. Everyone wants to win. No matter what generation you belong to, you understand the importance of bringing your head and your heart to work. You also know that winning takes investment which means pouring into relationships, giving your time and creating collaboration.

We are shifting rapidly. Thanks to culture, change is all around us. Even though people of older generations may have been raised in a different time and environment, they have set the tone for the type of leadership millennials expect and sometimes mirror. This means together we must identify the trends that are shaping the future and take action to shape it before culture shapes it for us.

Intergenerational leadership is tricky, and it's easy to get hung on our differences especially when talking about millennials.

But perhaps if we spend more time identifying ways to bridge the gaps, we can move forward to greater progress and innovation in leadership.

Tell me what you think. What can leaders do to bridge the generational gap? What have seen done that worked well within your organization?

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