Leadership and Generation X

How understanding the relevance of generational dynamics can invigorate your leadership potential.

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A prime example of such a systemic flaw is the driven, 24/7 nature of our workplace that researchers are finding is impacting the physical, emotional and intellectual well-being of the workforce. Many X-ers see the limits to this and strive to find private ways to manage these impacts. While there are certain sectors that have made institutional strides toward supporting a more balanced work life (the high-tech sector, for example, which also appears to have a higher proportion of Gen X leadership), the majority of corporate America remains chained to the existing model. Boomer employers are noting that younger generations want a different lifestyle, but changing institutional systems to make this possible will require that those who want it come together and exert leadership and influence to make it happen at a systemic level.

Effective leaders equate personal success with organizational success, are willing to risk taking a stand for what is important to the future success of the organization as a whole, commit to building the relationships and networks needed to gain trust and cooperation, and instill hope in others for a better way. It starts with clarity about one's own values and the integrity to live by those values, and I believe many X-ers already possess that. But leadership requires more of us. It requires that we work to instill those values into the systems and institutions that impact our lives and our kids' lives. It requires that we build networks with each other, and yes, with those Baby Boomers who are so empowered by and absorbed with their own connections. It requires us to stretch past our modular ways, engage with others who share our concerns, and learn the art and science of wielding influence to effect change.

It is my hope that we can start to become resources for each other, to connect around the commonalities in our lives. To encourage this, I pose the following questions to X-ers. If you choose, you can respond in the feedback section below:

  • What are your experiences with leadership?
  • How have you found ways to influence those around you?
  • What do you care about? What do you want to change? To what are you most committed?
  • What has helped you to be successful? What has held you back?
  • What aspects of leadership do you want to know more about?

If I can, I will help highlight what has worked, explore what has not, and introduce perspectives that can help all Gen X-ers push our learning edges and expand our leadership potential.

Deborah Gilburg is a principal of Gilburg Leadership Institute, a leadership development firm specializing in generational dynamics and organizational succession planning.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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