Situational Leadership Depending on Generation of Followers?

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Situational Leadership Depending on Generation of Followers?
Vipul Nahar, Other, India

The following approximate categorization of generations based on birth year is widely accepted:
- Builders (1925-1945)
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
- Generation X (1965-1979)
- Generation Y (1980-1994)
- Generation Z (1995-2010)

We are all part of one of the above mentioned generations, and so are our leaders. This is relevant both for our target audiences and the appropriate leadership style:
- TARGET AUDIENCES because of the pace at which generations are growing can either break or make an established leader’s image in the future if not paid enough attention towards. At present, they might not be the direct beneficiaries of a leader’s vision, but keep a very eye on every movement and might become a part of vision at a later stage. And as there can be a demographic expansion in target audiences, so come into the effect varying characteristics of every generation. For example an individualistic view of Generation Y versus collective view of Baby Boomers, Increasing pace of Gen Y versus Gen X and Baby Boomers, Knowledge and competence as source of influence for Gen Y versus position and authority for Baby Boomers etc…
- LEADERSHIP QUALITIES should draw our attention too. For example the EQ/People Skills of Baby Boomers versus the Technological/Cultural advancement of Gen X and Gen Y, the broader thinking of Gen Y versus the more Conservative thinking of Baby Boomers, the short term focus on organizational commitment of Gen Y versus the long lasting commitment of Baby Boomers etc…

So what do these varying characteristics indicate towards? They indicate that leaders have to understand and appreciate the differences among audiences across generations and modify their leadership styles accordingly. And to do so, instead of having all in one package, we should rather focus on “distributed leadership” i.e. finding our limitations and make them somebody else’s strengths.

Caution with Differences between Generations
Michael Horwitz, Professor, United States
There is also research that supports the notion that grouping generations by stereotype is a danger. There are experiences that define a generation and maybe technology is one of them, but as we also know from the theory of SLEEP and the Situational Leadership Models I & II, followers can be anywhere on the spectrum and therefore the situation in the context is what matters, not the generation.



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