Leadership discussions often point out that being a leader isn’t about your job title or who appointed you to a position of leadership. It is more about how you act as a leader and how others view you as a leader. Depending on your age, your generational group, this can mean different things.
Most Millennials believe that leadership is about guidance and that a great leader coaches and directs their team. This will likely include helping them find learning and mentoring opportunities along the way, or at least finding ways for them to grow and develop their own skills.
For a member of Generation X, leadership is more about competence. This age group is going to respect and follow the person they feel is knowledgeable and capable of leading them toward success.
For a Baby Boomer leadership is based on consensus which means that a great leader is the one who can rally the team toward a common goal and get everyone working together. A great leader is capable of getting everyone to agree on the best way to achieve the objectives.
To a Traditionalist, leadership is based on hierarchy, meaning the person in charge is the leader and should call the shots. Those below should follow.
These differing views of leadership can result in confusion and conflict. If a Baby Boomer, who is all about consensus, is leading a team made up of Gen Xers who are looking for competence and Millennials who are looking for guidance, this leader may find they are often playing the wrong role. By not showing the expected leadership competency at the right time, the team members may decide this person isn’t a great leader. It can be a balancing act to understand what your team needs in a leader and provide that in your leadership.
If you have a leader who isn’t your same generational cohort and you question their leadership style, you may want to try to understand why that leader looks at leadership differently and why that doesn’t mean they can’t still be an effective leader.