Next-Gen Leadership: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

My Generation iPod

You have likely at some point in your life or career had a course or two referring to communication.

We’ve all learned something about how to relate to others. It is my belief that we all try very hard to do this. Much research has been tuned into this subject for many decades, much involving primates.

The New Workplace

The New WorkplaceI’d like us to leave the monkeys alone and get some simple tools to help us out with one glaring and urgent issue facing management and communication.

This not so new but not yet understood aspect of communication  – generational communication gaps.

It is my belief that the social media surge has turned nicely moving gaps into gaping canyons!

Let’s refresh our memories and solve this.

Use this chart and simple exercise – it works.

Characteristics of Generational Management Styles

(1922 – 1945)
(1946 – 1964)
GEN Xers
(1965 – 1980)
(1981 – 2000)
General Overview Control and Command Participative Collaborative Hypercollaborative
Behavioural Characteristics RIGIDDo what I say; not what I do POLITICALDo what we’ve all agreed upon STRAIGHT-FORWARD
Do what we need to do to get results
PERSONALDo what each of us is best at and wants to do
Expectations Micromanagement Flavour-of-the-month – latest management trend Performance-based management Just-in-time management

Flex your Generational Style.

  1. Which one are you?  You will automatically think this is the ‘right way’ to do things so shouldn’t be hard to spot.
  2. Write down names of people who you work with/serve the community with/interact with/family members.
  3. Put your best guess of which generation they belong to.
  4. Compare it to yours.

How many GAPS are you away from each other.  Hint: A canyon in my books is more than one.

Boomers and Gen Y

Lets use BOOMERS and GEN Ys for our example and apply this.


You are a boomer and you have Gen Ys on your team.

(Hello – parents – you can apply this workplace example to your house as well. You have a young adult in the house. Same thing.  Potentially the same gap. )

BOOMERS: You think GEN Ys are incredibly rude because they are texting each other during a meeting. (or the dinner table)

BOOMERS: You may be thinking “What has happened to this generation?  No manners!”

REFRAME: Here is what they may have intended. Typically, Gen Ys are hyper-collaborative and will query each other via instant messaging. The reasons they do this is so they don’t bother the other people in the meeting (dinner) and they are comfortable with technology.  Their intention is not to be rude at all. Quite the opposite, actually.

ADVICE TO BOOMERS: You may want to quit being a “Boomersaurus.”


Okay, Gen Ys – its your turn to relate.

Yes you recently (via tweet) declared yourself the tweet queen.  Congratulations.

Now, think about this for a moment.  When you are texting each other and naturally collaborating, no one else is hearing your question(s) and the experience around the table isn’t able to chime in and give you some 20+ years of hard-earned lessons from the trenches and seasoned, value added advice.

This is the dark side of your tweet awards.  Yes, technology.

There are times when you may miss the reasons for doing what you are doing. Technology is an enabling tool and artificial intelligence. Dont forget that it’s the brain – not the computer – that needs to make the decisions about the services being provided to clients in the workplace.

Remember that your Boomersaurus colleagues (parents) have much wisdom to impart and please don’t throw the boomer out with the bath water.

Have you ever dismissed a colleague or team member because of age differences?  What happened? What are the key issues facing your team/home/organization with respect to bridging the generational differences in talent and performance? What would you like to see happening on your team/in your household, that isn’t?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas is VP Housing & Dev at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Skype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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L2L Contributing Author


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