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What is a Cross-Generational Leader and Why Should You Care?

There has been plenty of studies, articles, and observations of different generations in the workforce. However, most conclusions found and conducted are isolated within one of five different generations in the workforce - with the bulk being focused on Millennials and how to lead them.

Studies conducted on how to lead Millennials started over 10-years ago in the mid-2000s. The workforce is soon entering 2020 and leadership must look at Millennials, and all other generations, from a different perspective. A lot can change in any generation within a 10-15 year period including, but not limited to marital status, parental status, leaving a company, moving to a different company or location, and a shift in a view of self-worth and life purpose.

It’s time to stop chasing fads on Millennials and finally find a leadership model that is sustainable, agile, and able to work globally.

Introducing the Cross-Generational Leader.

The topics of generations in the workplace advocates for many methods, theories, and management methods. The one that is most effective-to-date is to have employees within the GenX (born 1963-1978) generation be a bridge between Baby Boomer (approx. born 1944-1962) and Millennials (born 1979-1994). GenX has the respect of the executive Boomers as well as the up and coming Millennials. That method was years ago - but still relevant within law firms and other industries that have patterns of generations staying at work well into their late 70s.

GenX is now taking more and more executive positions in business and the corporate world. However, they are the highest generation who leave jobs to start their own businesses due to burnout and frustration. GenX is very frustrated with being squeezed between the Baby Boomer generations that are not leaving their executive positions and the massive amount of Millennials being recruited into the workforce. Where is GenX going? They are creating their own businesses or leaving large companies to be executives in smaller companies where they will feel appreciated.

To give you an idea of this escalation, even though they are the smallest generation, GenXers “have launch[ed] more startups that have paid employees—the true economic engine of the United States—than any other generation, according to the 2015 U.S. Census Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs.”

If companies want to hold onto the amassed experience GenX has accumulated over the decades than there needs to create “buffer” opportunities. While GenX awaits a well-deserved promotion to a higher-level leadership position they must have a way to accumulate a salary increase as well as more opportunity to lead others and the company’s initiatives.

What about upcoming generational leaders?

As an additional initiative to give additional opportunities for GenX to remain appreciated and engaged at work it is imperative to condition upcoming leadership benches for middle to high-level management.

Millennials are the obvious focus as they take the majority of the workforce and are the generation that follows GenX. Conditioning and attracting Millennials to be cross-generational leaders before they enter the middle to high-level management is crucial to company success.

If you are to have a sustainable and duplicatable leadership bench cross-generational leadership skills are required early in their career progression. Preparing Millennials much earlier in their career paths will reap huge rewards with team communication, engagement, problem-solving, and collaboration; and when it comes time for Millennials to be promoted to mid to high-level positions they will already have developed the majority of the leadership skills needed to do the job well and scale results faster than ever before.

Do companies need or want Cross-Generational Leaders?

Gartner conducted a large survey and study “to understand whether some manager approaches to employee development were more effective than others”. The feedback was a claim that management needs to shift into building and conditioning a strategy that fosters “connector managers”.

Connector Managers are essentially in-house leaders with coaching abilities towards increasing employee engagement, skill development, and communication efficiencies. Gartner explains Connector Managers as “those who connect the right people and resources at the right time”.

In essence, conditioning current and upcoming leaders is an employee-centric and long-term sustainable approach that breaks the corporate structure of workforce silos and management tunnel vision. By increasing and conditioning connector managers within the company the ability and agility of company projects will be completed sooner, faster, and easier than ever before.

Connector Managers are Cross-Generational leaders and in-house networkers.

Not only are Cross-Generational leaders “connector-managers” they are bridges in communication and collaboration, bring the ability to sustain high-quality leadership benches, and can implement company projects quickly.

Cross-Generational leaders are not just the future, they are also in the present. Prevent major leadership shifts by implementing Cross-Generational leadership development and conditioning in your company as soon as possible.

Read more on how your organization can attract, condition, and build cross-generational leaders here.

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