I was recently introduced to the book Nine Lies about Work1 by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall and have become a follower of Marcus Buckingham. One of the things in this book that I’ve been thinking about is the importance of building on your strength (see Lie #4 The best people are well-rounded). Instead of trying to fix what we don’t do well, we can be more effective by concentrating on what we do well. If we focus on our strengths and do what we do well even better, we are more likely to make a difference. I decided to apply this to leadership, more specifically to generational leadership characteristics. So, once again, what are those primary characteristics of leadership for each generational cohort?
Some driving forces for the leadership style of each generation are the following:
Traditionalists – Traditional; autocratic; hierarchical; directive; command and control
Baby Boomers – Democratic, participative, consensus building; collegial
Generation X – Challenging; competence; informed decision-making; laissez-faire
Millennials – Collaborative; inclusive; innovative; rely on networking and information sharing
Generation Z – Instantaneous; lack of boundaries
Obviously, there are some differences. If each generation focuses on what they know how to do best and are comfortable with, then does it well, they can be good leaders. This doesn’t mean they should forget that the people they are leading may prefer to be led a different way. First thinking of how you can be a good leader and then how that will be received by those you lead can be effective. Deciding your strength then adapting it to the needs of your team can lead to great results. Not all leaders should lead the same way so don’t try to mold your leadership style to what is best for someone else but not for you.
1Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall, Nine Lies About Work (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2019)