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!

Racist Rants? Not Exactly!

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I posted the following tweet to my LeadToday Twitter on Sunday morning:

You’ll reach your goal sooner if you begin today instead of tomorrow. There is likely no real reason to wait, go for it!

Lots of people ReTweeted it and many made positive comments about it. One comment most certainly wasn’t positive. One person replied by saying, “it was spoken LIKE a true Republican who got courage from a suit but knew nothing of getting their hands dirty doing real work.”

I made a mistake by deciding to engage this person in a conversation (as I sometimes do) and replied by saying something about it not being a political tweet and that I had to go wash my hands…. I included a smiley face so they would know I was kidding.

Her response bitterly stated that I shouldn’t tweet humor after the shooting in Colorado. In subsequent tweets she said she could tell I was the typical white racist republican that made money off the poor but knew nothing of real work.

It was at that point that I blocked the person.

All that from a basic Sunday morning tweet that was simply supposed to make people feel better about themselves.

I like to learn from my interactions on Twitter but I’m struggling to see the lesson in this one. My instincts told me I was heading for trouble before I responded to her original tweet but I ignored them and replied anyway. Maybe the lesson is “listen to your instincts.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have blocked her at all. Perhaps I should have stayed engaged and maybe helped her see a brighter side of life. Maybe the lesson is “don’t bail on difficult conversations.”

Perhaps she is more insightful than thousands of other people and my tweets are really insensitive racist rants. Maybe the lesson here is…. Nope, no lesson here. My tweets are anything but racist rants.

It could be that the woman was struggling with something in her life and it manifested itself with harsh thoughts directed randomly at whomever crossed her path. She was certainly one of the most bitter people I’ve ever come across, on Twitter or anywhere else. The lesson here must be to not take Twitter comments too personally.

I suppose it’s also possible she’s just an unstable person in which case it would be a mistake to take any lessons from our encounter.

So…. Help me out, what’s my lesson here?