For some reason, we have generational labels for people born within certain years, and these come with generational attributes as if describing a sub-species of humans or members of different tribes – the silent generation, the baby boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y. To be honest, I’ve never found this helpful. Leadership with generational labels in today’s fast and flat world is a distraction.
Leadership does not bound people by age, any more than it does by colour, gender, creed or nationality. Leadership thrives in ambiguity, creates vision and belief in possibilities and mobilises people in pursuit of a better future to serve humanity. Leadership breaks down barriers, especially generational labels, to bring out the best in others for the betterment of all.
As we live longer, we work longer with people from all generations. We are connected to more people in all aspects of our life. More organisations, bigger government and more interfaces, bringing more chance for systemic failure that we might not see until a catastrophe occurs. These risks hamper many from making progress.
Yet, others see the upside of this context to create more collaboration across the interfaces, leverage the competencies essential for success from wherever they are, and invest in the positioning they have to capture opportunities for growth. This is the imperative of leadership across the generations.
Where learning once passed linearly from master to apprentice in the Silent Generation, we are seeing a number of workplaces practice cross-generational learning in all directions from another’s success and failure. The principal of being mutually supportive is perhaps the most important for today’s leaders to practice and the most difficult to engender — for that means leaders must show their vulnerability to failure, they must mutually support their team and show their preparedness to learn from it.
May your leadership journey be unbounded by labels and carry the force of all generations. Our world and its future generations depend on it.