Horse Manure & Intergenerational Leadership – 3 Actions to Bridge the Latest Generation Gap

Have you ever heard any of these statements at a conference or from a consultant?

  • Four generations sharing one workplace … this was not supposed to happen.
  • One generation remembers rotary phones … the other uses IPhones 

Do they think we are idiots?

Do they think this is the first time young people with those new fandangled ideas joined the work force. Or is this the first time in human history that those in the work force ranged between ages 18 to 70.

Jack Weinberg said “Never trust anyone over 30” in 1964.

How about this one “…Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter…” Socrates 1,400BC

Do you think the WWI veterans thought the Flappers of the 1920’s were cut from the same stock as they were? Or the WWII veterans gelled with the Hippies of the 60’s any better than the baby boomers and the GenXer’s of today do?

I struggle every time people tell me I have to customize leadership to a generation or to specific style, because every time I hear such a thing I say to myself: “don’t eat that Steve, that there is horse manure.”

Of course there are differences between the generations and understanding generational differences is important. But let’s understand one thing: there are concepts and principles of leadership that are timeless.

I believe these principals set the stage for great leadership regardless of the generations within any organization.

One Concept and Three Actions

It is a truism That People are Silently Begging to be Led and they want to be led be people of high ethic, courage and honesty. In short they want their Boss to demonstrate Moral Courage. Click here to read more about Moral Courage

The following three actions that can set a foundation for building positive relationships regardless of generation, culture or status:

Action #1: Respect.

Everyone wants it; few do well at giving it. Boomers and Gen Xers say that that young people, don’t give enough respect to superiors and Gen Y people often feel the same lack of respect from their superiors. This culture of disrespect begins to form a vicious circle and will become detrimental to all workplace relationships.

Action #2: Understanding.

Styles of communication do not only differ based on generation but also on an individual level! Understanding why those around you communicate the way they do will help you create great and lasting relationships.

Action #3: Action.

How does a boss error by going above and beyond or communicating TOO well? Honest, open and trusting communications is an inherent positive that is recognized by those in any generation. Allowing your actions to speak for themselves will help establish your positive personal brand that will set a lasting impression with all members of your team.

Click here to read  Attila The Hun & saying Thank You

What can you do to bridge the latest Generation Gap?

The next time you find yourself thinking, “What’s wrong with these young people” stop, pause and ask yourself, “What’s the same and what was it like to be the odd-generation out when you started working?”

Regardless of which generation they belong no one goes to work wanting their day to be wasted, their character to be disrespected or to do a poor job; people simply want to:

  • Have honourable and engaging work to do;
  • Be given clear expectations
  • Feel they are part of something bigger than they are;
  • Be employed at or above their current capacity; and,
  • Be respected and appreciated.