Leadership for the Ages – Part Two of Some

In the first post of this series we looked at the one key characteristic that all leaders must have. They must have integrity. Without integrity they can try to lead every day of their lives and it’s unlikely that anyone will truly follow. That’s true no matter what generation the follower comes from.

In this post, we’ll look at the four generations together and start to look deeper at the first group. 

I’d bet you’re already aware of the four generations we’re going to look at but just so we’re all on the same page let’s review. Each expert in the study of various generations has their own name for the groups but since I’m clearly no expert I’ll make up my own.

The first and “oldest” generation we’ll look at is my dad’s. So I’ll call it “Dad’s” generation. The experts call it “The Silents” or the “Veterans” but while my dad was a veteran he certainly wasn’t silent so I don’t know how both could fit. This group was born between 1925 and 1946.

Next we have my generation. The experts call my generation the “Baby Boomers” and since I was born right in the middle of that generation I’ll call that one the “Middles.” (hey, it’s my blog, I can call it what I want) This group was born between 1946 and 1964.

Next we have what the experts call the Generation Xers. I don’t understand why. You would think if they are really experts they could have come up with a name better than that. I’ll call them the “Changers” because in my opinion they changed their world, and everyone else’s faster than any generation before them. The “Changers” were born between 1965 and 1980. 

Finally we have what I call “The Kids.” I mean no disrespect with that name, quite the opposite. This is the generation of my kids and our future is in their hands. What the people of my generation messed up this generation will have to fix. I believe they are up to the task. The experts call them “The Millennials.” I’m not sure why but this much is certain: the world this group grew up in is very different than the one I remember when I was growing up, very very different. This is the group born after 1980. 

So, there’s the four generations. Let’s take a closer look at the first group, “Dad’s.” 

If events shape our lives, and I believe they do, this group’s collective lives were shaped by some big ones. WWII and the great depression come immediately to mind. They struggled to survive. The values they learned in those times are still present today. They possess a great commitment to team members and working together. They, as a group, are the best communicators among all of us. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They typically say the same thing to everyone, there are few games with this group. 

I find the concept of leading anyone from this age group to be almost ridiculous, none of us would be here but for the sacrifices of this group. They deserve as much respect as we can give them. 

Some of the leaders from the  “Changers’ and “Kids,” and sadly even some of the leaders from the “Middles” would dismiss the wisdom of this group. That is a huge mistake for any leader to make. The values they bring along with their wisdom are sorely lacking among many of today’s leaders. 

They are dedicated and fiercely loyal. They seldom waver in the face of a challenge and it’s from this group that great mentors come, to this very day. 

Any leader who discounts advice from this group, solely on the basis that “things are different now” does so at their own risk. Remember, “things” may be different but people are not. Leadership is about people, not things. Advice from this group should be considered priceless!

Leadership for the Ages – Part One

The two most popular “theories” or “methods” or whatever you want to call them, of leadership are: treat everyone you lead the same or treat everyone you lead differently because everyone you lead is unique.

I subscribe to neither of them. Here’s mine: Treat everyone you lead the same, just do it differently. I believe that’s the most effective way to lead because people are mostly the same. They always have been and history shows us that there is no reason to think that will ever change. 

We all have the same basic needs and wants. The mere fact that we’re all human dictates that simple truth. While we all have much in common however we all also have things about us that make us different from every other person on earth. I am unique and so are you and you and you. So is everyone else. 

Some folks in leadership positions seem to miss that fact, or at least part of it. They understand that as a leader “they” are different. They know that it’s those differences that set them apart from other people and make them a leader. Then, at the same time, they lead their people as if their people were just like them. 

They assume their people are motivated by many of the same things they are. They lead as if their people have the same life experiences as the they do. They lead their people the way they, the leader, want to be led. 

That’s pure leadership folly!

In this series of posts I’ve titled Leadership for the Ages we’ll look at the differences in people related to their generations. I’ll write with broad strokes here with the full understanding that even within generations the differences abound. 

In this post however let’s look at what all generations have in common. 

They expect honesty from their leaders. They want… it’s actually more than want, they need to be able to trust their leaders. People of every generation have always needed a leader they could trust and they have always known that leadership has little to do with a title or position.

They know that leadership, actual, authentic, servant leadership has to do with caring for and about people. Regardless of a person’s age, background, motivation, or goals, they don’t care what a leader knows until they know that the leader cares. About them!

People will commit to a leader who cares about them, they will follow, they will go the extra mile. They follow leaders they trust to look out for their people’s interest. Without integrity there is no trust and without trust there is no leadership. That’s true for all generations and all cultures. 

Everyone has that in common.

In the next post we’ll begin looking at the differences in the generations and how those differences affect both leaders and followers.