Leading the Generations? Really???

Generations in the Workplace

Over the years I have been a student of many a good presenters who have projected the need to be aware of the motivations and tendencies of the generations.  

Somehow I didn’t get it?  I was not seeing the Gen X’s, and Millennials.

It Just Doesn’t Matter

Maybe that’s because I see the personality as the stereotype rather than the age bracket. I always thought that it was just my profession (fire department) that normalized the generations with a brotherhood of shared experiences.

But as I get older, I am becoming more convinced that it doesn’t matter the generation, and it doesn’t matter the shared experiences (no matter how extreme); it only matters the person.

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks.  Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.  And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”  ~ D.H. Lawrence, Classical American Literature, 1922

Enduring Qualities of Leadership

Leadership has not changed for centuries. People respond as a followers based on how they are treated and how they are inspired by others.

Often, it comes down to admiration and belief.

  • If I like you, I’m likely to follow you.
  • If I believe in your cause, I’m likely to follow you.
  • If I like you AND believe in your cause, I’m sure to follow you and probably become a following leader.

This has shown to be true with the greatest generation through these young Gen ?’s of today.

There is nothing wrong with today’s teenager that twenty years won’t cure.  ~ Author Unknown

Leading People By Learning Them

Research shows that the Millennials are probably going to change jobs several times in their career.  I hear they may be motivated by what’s in it for them. But isn’t this true for most people?

So how do you lead the newest stereotyped generation?

  • Learn what MBTI stands for and become proficient at reading the types and how to communicate with them individually.
  • Learn the science of StrengthsFinder assessments from Gallup. This skill will allow you to positively influence people by recognizing their personal strength.
  • Learn how to discover people’s values and what truly motivates them with Recalibrate Cards. This skill will dramatically increase your personal leadership effectiveness.

These skills will allow you to access the true motivations behind those you want to foster as followers/leaders. Oh, and this secret to leading a new generation is the same one that worked well with our father and our grandfather and back and back….

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

Interacting and Adapting

I do believe our social arena is the changing factor influencing our lives more than the expectations of a generation. Technology has definitely changed how we interact and conduct business.

As we adapt to the new arena, we adjust our perceptions and expectations of those around us.

Some don’t make the leap to the current arena and become mired in the last game. Maybe we can translate this into the newer generations as they tend to adapt quickly to the norms and those mired are obviously old school.

And as far as leading these whippersnappers goes, find out about them personally. Then lead them accordingly.

So, how has leading people based on their “generation status” worked out for you? How could you dig deeper when leading people and teams beyond such an over-generalized way as when they were born? What are you doing to learn about the people who you lead and adjust accordingly? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Robert Isbell
Robert Isbell is Instructor at On-Demand Leadership
He Specializing in Leadership and Team Building at the Executive Level
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web

Image Sources: drdianehamilton.files.wordpress.com

4 responses to “Leading the Generations? Really???

  1. Pingback: Leading the Generations? Really??? |·

  2. Reblogged this on Leadership Advantage and commented:
    So, Gen X is different from the Baby Boomers, is different from Gen Y, Gen iY and now Gen z… Apparently these younger generations wnat something for nothing, want a great life, fun, go and play, work less, earn more, have more impact….
    Not so different then…


  3. Pingback: Leading the Generations? Really??? | Brass Bugles·

  4. Pingback: 5 for Leadership (11/30/12) - Gary Runn·

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