Baby Boomers are leaving our workforce. The Gen-X are gradually taking over the top management positions. Millennials and Gen-Ys are all working adults and the Gen-Z will enter the workforce very soon.
What does this mean?
It means we will soon face a shift in leadership philosophy and face a “new” generation gap issue.
I am a Gen-X. Grew up in the 80s listening to rock classics on the radio and watching iconic movies on video cassette tapes. I had action figures as toys and went to the arcades to play video games during my teens. I had to go to the library to look up books for references and telephone calls were the order of the day if I wanted to maintain a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend. We depended on coins a lot.
And we developed patience because most of our entertainment sources like magazines and TV shows came in on a weekly or monthly basis. Only when I was entering the workforce that I could afford internet connections. Social media did not bother me much until I managed to secure a more stable career and for some of my fellow Gen-Xers, until we had our own family and kids.
All of that shaped us. Education, experience, and exposure. But the newer generations, they had a different kind of experience. They had convenience thrown into the mix. For us convenience was a luxury, for them convenience was expected. Because of this, their exposure was more extensive than any other generations before that. This should have made them more resourceful, but it did not. Sure, I am generalising here, but looking at the average Joe, and you can relate to what I mean.
So, what do we do?
Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, we, the Gen-X is taking over the ship as the new captain. Like it or not, we need to fill in the shoes of a leader. Whether we will be in a formal leadership position or not, we will have to lead in one form or another. I am a soft skills trainer by profession. I cannot not lead. In what I do, it does not matter the position I label myself with, but the role I must play requires me to provide a direction and care enough to guide or show the way. It is not easy as we are in unprecedented times on multiple levels. The accelerated rate of technological advancement in the past few decades was nothing like we or the earlier generations had gone through before. Add that to the current pandemic situation, we are basically thrown into the deep end of the leadership-pool. Either we sink, or we swim.
My point of writing this piece is not to don the red cape and be the hero that offers an ideal solution. My intention is to invite my fellow Gen-Xers to do what we do best – learn to figure things out and find the way out, just like MacGyver did in every single episode week after week. All we need to do is take charge and lead with conviction.
There are plenty of platforms in which we can do this. Knowledge Management (KM) implementation in the organisation is one way of keeping the “what we figured out and what is the way out” within the organisation itself. Strategically, tap on the tacit knowledge of the remaining Baby Boomers and “record” that for references. Learn coaching and mentoring techniques and apply them in a coaching and mentoring programme with the Gen-Y and Gen Z to tap on their exposure and new perspectives. Use training and development programmes as an opportunity to facilitate a change agent initiative that can help foster a collaborative working culture to seek new ideas for business innovation or even reinvention.
Leverage on the available talents and diversified strengths to create a new and innovative solution to the problems we currently face, just like the A-team would. All we need to do is just “lead” towards this direction and set things in motion. Come on friends, this is the time! It is our time to step up.