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Learning to bridge the gap across generations.

Leading Across Generations: How Transformational Leaders Can Bridge the Gap

In today’s rapidly evolving work environment, it’s common for leaders to manage teams consisting of multiple generations. Unfortunately, generational differences often lead to conflict due to misaligned preferences, communication styles, and work values. Organizations and leaders need to address this issue since millennials and Gen-Zs will make up the majority of the workforce. So how do you achieve a cohesive and productive workplace? Generational leadership is the answer.

Here are some strategies for Transformational Leaders to build a high-performing, multi-generational team.

A team of individuals from different age groups.

What is Generational Leadership?

Generational leadership refers to the ability to lead and manage a team of individuals from different age groups. Each generation has its unique characteristics, attitudes toward work, and expectations. 

Here is an overview of the different generations that comprise the current workforce:

    • Traditionalists are those who were born before 1945.

    • Baby boomers are those who were born from 1946 to 1964.

    • Generation X are those who were born from 1965 to 1980.

    • Millennials and Gen Y are those who were born from 1981 to 1996.

    • Gen Z are those who were born from 1996 to 2012. 

As you can see, these are five distinct generations. The differences in each generation can lead to conflicts and impair productivity. Generational and transformational leadership enables you to overcome the challenges of working with each age group and maintain cohesiveness. At the same time, leaders can also cater to the unique needs of each generation to improve morale and increase job satisfaction.

Strategies for Transformational Leaders to Bridge the Gap Across Generations

Having multi-generational teams is a common attribute that many organizations share these days. Therefore, it’s common for employees to suffer from a generational gap. But it doesn’t have to be a source of conflict. Instead, generational and transformational leadership styles can use these differences to their advantage. 

Learning to bridge the gap across generations is crucial to feeling connected and engaged as an organization. Here are some strategies that transformational leaders can adopt to lead across various generations effectively.

1. Encourage Learning from Each Other

When promoting a healthy and productive work environment, transformational leaders can turn negative into positive. One example of that is when dealing with differences across generations. Instead of looking at that as a hurdle, you can use it as an opportunity to encourage learning from each other.

Older workers have wisdom that cannot be learned in school. Younger employees appreciate the wisdom and insights they get from working with someone from an older generation because it expands their horizons and knowledge. On the other hand, more senior employees can learn from the fresh insights of younger employees, especially when it concerns technology and new tools.

Advocating for your employees to facilitate knowledge sharing and a healthy exchange of ideas can create a positive work culture. That’s how transformational leaders can make a positive impact. 

2. Show Empathy

Transformational leaders can bridge the gap across generations by showing empathy. As a leader, you must put yourself in the team members’ perspectives to understand their needs and motivations. 

Actively listen to your employees and encourage them to ask questions. You can bridge the gap by understanding your employees’ needs and consciously addressing these.

Strategies to bridge generation gap.

3. Foster an Inclusive Culture

Leaders should focus on inclusion in their work environment to create a sense of belonging for every team member. Leaders should encourage everyone to embrace those differences. By recognizing the unique talents and perspectives that every team member brings to the table, you can create a safe space for open dialogue and maximize the contributions of each employee. 

An inclusive culture can also provide growth opportunities. You can assign roles to each team member that align with their experiences, skills, values, and beliefs. Make sure to give them more confidence by providing mentorship and training.

Finally, you can encourage your team to collaborate. High-performing teams prioritize innovation, professional growth, and cross-functional collaboration.  

4. Promote a Learning Environment

One of the best ways to address generation gaps among your workforce is to encourage learning. Build a learning environment by making training and seminars a priority. 

Some employees might feel insecure about their position when their co-employees have more knowledge or skill than them. You can make all employees equipped and competent to be confident in their roles through adequate training. In addition, providing learning tools and opportunities boosts employee motivation that empowers them to advance their careers.

The Bottom Line

Leading across generations is challenging but also rewarding. Generational and transformational leaders must possess the skills to overcome those challenges and build a high-performing team. Use the strategies included in this guide to promote diversity, embrace differences, and allow every team member to flourish. 

FAQ

Q. What leadership style do Gen Z prefer?

A. As per research by Ozkan and Solmaz (2015) and Laudert (2018), Generation Z perceives  authenticity, adaptability, flexibility, and work-life balance as key leadership influencing qualities.

Q. What is Generation Z leadership style?

A. Gen Z thrive on opportunities to be challenged, learn and grow. They value transparency, collaboration and mentoring. They are not bound by tasks and roles.

Q. How do you lead across generations?

A. Build trust, accept and honor differences. Learn from each other. Set policies and structures that address different needs.

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