Cross-generational leadership

SPASA Australia

By Lindsay McGrath
Wednesday, 01 February, 2017



Cross-generational leadership

Cross-generational management is one of the many challenges faced by leaders today. The fact is, the longer you are in a leadership position, the younger the workforce you manage gets in comparison. Irrespective of your role or business, you have the opportunity to lead and create a positive culture in your workforce. The tips below will help you adapt your leadership style to suit the various generational groups in your workforce.

Baby Boomers: born 1946–1964

Life expectancy is increasing and the workforce is ageing. Don’t lose these skilled mentors with experience to share. Flexibility is often the key as the retirement age progresses toward 70. Consider half days, short weeks, etc, to help provide a home/work balance.

Generation X: born 1965–1980

Show me the money! For this generation, the mortgage is still too high; the kids are older and aren’t leaving home; the superannuation is never enough. By providing stability, you will be rewarded with loyalty by many in this age group.

Generation Y: born 1981–2000

Engagement, engagement, engagement. Gen Y-ers need to see the path forward with their career and to answer the question, “What are we a part of?” The key difference between Gen Y and prior generations is that they work best when rewarded prior to delivery. Despite stereotypes, they are no less loyal or dedicated than older generations.

Generation Z/Millennials: born 2000 onwards

Technology is as natural to them as breathing; the world before touch screens is unknown. Connection is constant via media, and apps replace emails. My daughter says, “Facebook is for old people, Dad. I want to talk to all of my friends all of the time, so why would I send an email and wait?” Technology gives them instant communication and constant interaction with the outside world. This is an exciting group to have in your team as our industry embraces automation.

Delivering cross-generational leadership

Labelling any person as a style or type due to their age is a dangerous practice as a leader. However, the above stereotypes help us acknowledge that as we get older our priorities change. Most of us want a little bit of what each age group is looking for, so challenge yourself to deliver a cross-generational leadership style.

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