For Generation X, how we lead must change once again

“I feel more like a therapist than a manager.” This is a paraphrased comment I heard recently from a leadership group I was presenting too. “The younger people on my team seem to need more validation than I am used to giving. They want to know that they are OK more often.” My uninspired comment back to here was that “things are a changin’.” If you are a Generation X leader (age 39-53) like I am, then you are in a unique position. For decades the older Boomers held down the fort and we worked according to their preferences, culture, and expectations. Over time we tuned how we did things to their style. Now generational representation in the workplace has flipped. With Boomer retirements accelerating, the even larger cohort of Millennials is exerting their substantial influence in the workplace. And things are a changing. For Generation X leaders it may mean we have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to our leadership style. What the younger generations tend to want is different than what the older generations tend to want. Gen X is in the middle, and we must change again. Your job title isn’t changing from leader to therapist, but the way you lead must change if you want everything the younger generations are capable of giving.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on May 8, 2019

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