Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Generations & Leadership

Leadership is the word, which to my understanding is having as many number of interpretations as the human beings on this earth. Right or wrong, nobody knows.

Leadership is vivid but varies from ‘History Makers’ to ‘History Destroyers’. Difference lies only in the understanding of person to person. Understanding - the first & foremost requirement to be a good leader. Still lies a challenge in front of us.

What is this challenge all about?  It is nothing but failure of understanding and appreciating the difference.

Today, the business at large is consistent of 4-Generations: Baby boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y, Millennial and 1- Variation: Female workers. In total, 5-Mindsets.

Each generation and female worker has its own set of values, biases and preferences that make them unique and different to each other. Until these differences are understood by organisations and their leaders, organisations and leaders will fail to tap the talent.

If we talk specifically about the reasons of misunderstanding, the boomers are inclined to and demonstrate commitment with 84-hrs workweeks as they have gone through that learning in their development time

Millennials today understand loyalty just opposite to Boomers and Gen-X understand. Loyalty for them does not mean staying at a company, building a career and retiring.  But something different. Each millennial wants to be treated distinctly and be appreciated for his/her contribution separately.  They want to love their company only if the company reflects who they are. Wow!!!

Gen-X: Sturdy, stupid generation of today. It is these who do not understand the generation next to them - Gen Y. Why because they do not want to understand. Simple!!!

Gen-X always wants their followers from Gen-Y to go through the same experience as they have gone through in their life. If suppose, they were given position of responsibility after 5 or 10 yrs of their joining a corporate, they wish today the same for Gen-Y.

Gen-Y on the other hand look for a place that is better aligned with their values and work styles. Gen –Y, a generation i.e. self-absorbed, entitled and tech-crazy are different in their work ethos. They leave work place dot at 5 and come online soon later and stay hooked till past mid night. They do not want to waste time in ‘learning by doing’ but want to contribute then & there. They want meaningful work projects, with even the most entry-level recruits wanting to feel connected to the greater mission of the organisation. This is what Gen-X fails to appreciate. Gen-X is hell bent to give them the same experience as they have undergone in their past.  Disconnect lies here!!! 

Further deep into the psyche, boomers who have revolted against their parents, still desire respect from next generation. Wonderful expectation, isn’t it?

It is where the change has to begin. But alas!!, it is taking all un-required time to happen. Just because, as research has demonstrated that humans subconsciously process information related to friends or ‘in-group’ people differently than processing the same information related to strangers.

Leaders and Followers are Strangers, today. Both are in their own worlds of Processing. Leadership however, has to start with understanding of Culture, Gender and Generations.  Few people understand it, they become hero, either in their own life time or later. But they do become hero. 

If we could learn to appreciate these differences, production and productivity will improve automatically.


Give it a try colleagues in Corporates here in India, and elsewhere in the world.  Corporate World will be different.