Monday, July 27, 2009

Why Generation X Has the Leaders We Need Now

Tammy Erickson published a great article in Harward Business Publishing, where she explains why she thinks that Generation X has the leaders we need now. The Generation X is a term used to refer to a generational cohort born in the 1960s and '70s.

"Future leaders in all spheres will have to contend with a world with finite limits, no easy answers, and the sobering realization that we are facing significant, seemingly intractable problems on multiple fronts. Perhaps the biggest change from the past: leaders will have to listen and respond to diverse points of view. There will be no dominant voice", she said.

She is convinced that Gen X'ers will be the leaders we need, below are her main reasons:

- Your accelerated contact with the real world, for many through a "latch-key" childhood, has made you resourceful and hardworking. You meet your commitments and take employability seriously.

- Your distrust of institutions grew as you witnessed the lay-offs of the '80s and has prompted you to value self-reliance. You have developed strong survival skills and the ability to handle whatever comes your way with resilience. X'ers instinctively maintain a well-nurtured portfolio of options and networks.

- A sense of alienation from your immediate surroundings as teens, coupled with rapidly expanding technology, has allowed you to look outward in ways no generation before could or did. You operate comfortably in a global and digital world. Many of you are avid adopters of the collaborative technology that promises to re-shape how we work and live.

- Your awareness of global issues was shaped in your youth, and you are richly multicultural. You bring a more unconscious acceptance of diversity than any preceding generation. Your formative years followed the civil rights advances of the 1960s. High divorce rates during your youth meant you are the first generation to grow up with women in independent authority roles. You welcome the contributions of diverse individuals.

- Your preference for "alternative" and early experience in making your own way left you inclined to innovate. You tend to look for a different way forward. Your strongest arena of financial success as a generation has been your entrepreneurial achievements.

- Your skepticism and ability to isolate practical truths have resulted in rich humor and incisive perspective. You help us all redefine issues and question reality.

- Your childhood made you fiercely dedicated to being good parents, prompting you to raise important questions about the way we all balance work with commitments beyond the corporation.

- Your pragmatism has given you practical and value-oriented sensibilities that, I believe, will help you serve as effective stewards of both today's organizations and tomorrow's world.

Tammy Erickson is a respected expert on collaboration and innovation, and her work is based on extensive research on the changing workforce and employee values, and on how successful organizations innovate through collaboration. She also published a book about this issue, called What's Next, Gen X?: Keeping Up, Moving Ahead, and Getting the Career You Want. The book is in Amazon's pre-order. Based in her article, I think this is a good book.

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