As Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) transition from marketplace leadership roles, they clear the way for new mental models and cultural shifts borne of Gen Xers (born between 1965-1981) and Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000). While “fair process” and “challenging the institutional powers-that-be” were revolutionary breakthroughs in the Boomer heyday—they now drag on the dynamism, energy, and collective intelligence of the differently constructed 20 to 40-something crowd. What once was fought for is now assumed, expected, and embodied. What’s next? Xers and Millennials are tapping organic forms of innovation and productivity in small skunkwork pods, with Google as their model of the workplace: casual dress, cultural diversity as the norm, an entrepreneurial mindset, playfulness as integral to creative work, outcome-focused, webbed instead of bureaucratically-boxed, well-rewarded, and loyal to the experiences they desire wherever they find or create them.
In organizations where the center of gravity is still grounded in traditional structures, Boomer leaders might choose to enjoy one more round of stirring the cultural soup. How? By inviting and encouraging Gen Xers and Millennials to meet in whatever ways Xers or Millennials create—virtually or face to face, to brainstorm innovations that could enhance any aspect of the workplace experience while also sharing valuable institutional knowledge in both directions. These younger innovators located in the middle and base of the organization are already spawning ideas for enhanced productivity, efficiency, maybe even “green” redesigns, and any other changes that might harness value for the organization and community. Are all Xers and Millennials like that? No more so than every Boomer was agitating for social changes. Yet, Xers’ and Millennials’ roots are in a different patch of historical ground than that of Boomers, and they start where Boomers end, as Boomers picked up where Veterans left off. Boomers can relish the passing of the baton while the circle of inclusion deepens more than ever before.
If you are a Boomer leader, you might gift yourself on the cusp of your transition, and glimpse and feel the future, its power, potential, and faith—through an invitation. Xers and Millennials, unlike like the Boomer generation that didn’t trust anyone over 30, will appreciate the opportunity to talk across levels and generations. Schedule a Conversation Café event (see http://www.conversationcafe.org/hosts.html) on some topic of strategic organizational interest—this time with three generations of working colleagues mixed together in conversation, to speak and listen, trust and be trusted no matter the differences in position, age, culture, nationality, or class. Enjoy the future legacy they feedforward to you, blend it with your own, and be an active follower as well as a seasoned leader. Shape and be shaped, and continue learning. Remember when and imagine anew.
Lloyd Raines is a seasoned executive coach (Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation), consultant, and trainer, and Principal of Integral Focus. He applies insights from the behavioral sciences, action learning, moral considerations, and integral development to help clients expand their individual and organizational awareness, teaming capabilities, and performance within a global context. He supports leadership growth in self-awareness, attentiveness, and impact through dialogue, experiential learning, and collaboratively designed practices that consider the breadth and depth of stewardship responsibilities. Lloyd is a founding member of Georgetown University’s Leadership Coaching Program where he continues to teach, a member of the International Coach Federation, ICCO, Coach University, and The Mankind Project. He is certified in the Leadership Circle, Cultural Transformation Tools, PeopleScan (Spiral Dynamics), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Syntax Communication Modeling (NLP). He earned an MS in The Administration of Justice at American University and his BA in Psychology at the University of Maryland. He enjoys writing, café conversations, his two artistic daughters in NYC, and the buzz of an enriched life with his wife and their energetic chocolate Lab. http://www.integral-focus.com.