Boomers and Millennials in Leadership Lots in Common
O ften we spend energy and brainpower viewing differences and observing problems based on those differences. With reverse paradigms, we can look at the similarities. Millennials and Baby Boomers make good teams and have lots in common if: • They are self-aware and understand their own and others’ preferences. • They desire a collaborative relationship. • They actually want a relationship. • They are aligned in values and principles. • They are committed to building relationship through communication and personal capacity building. Recently on Forbes.com, Andi McDaniel shared five ways that Boomers andMillennials are alike in “Boomers Vs. Millennials: You’re More Alike Than You Think,” with a premise based on a Nielson study, “Millennials: Breaking the Myths.”I agree with the premise and points. Boomers and Millennials both have a passion for making the world a better place and are committed to basic principles and core values. In Ancient Future Church, Robert E.Webber presents ideas for ministry in the postmodern and post-Christian world. He states that Millennials want a lot of what Boomers want, with distinct differences in how those wants are pursued. Boomers created “Contemporary Worship” to attract “Youth.” But even with many good worship experiences, there are many examples of “Entertainment Worship” that is shallow and without substance. Neither Boomers nor Millennials accept this as a desired norm. Millennials respect ancient traditions and valuable, meaningful content. It’s not as much about style as it is content and relevance.As an
Here are five ways to create synergy between the two generations: 1. Share Values: Don’t assume – clarify in writing. Start with values and then create guiding principles statements, defining who you are and how you’ll make decisions together. 2. Work on Relationship: Above all, leadership and communication depend on relationship. Never think it’s done. Always work on relationship. 3. Define Expectations: Conflict is setup unintentionally by leaders not having ex- pectations clearly defined in writing. De- fine what you need and what you will give. 4. Share Technology: Boomers know more about technology than is believed, so share what we have in common and coach each other on the gaps. 5. Be What You Say: Do you both model what you preach? In building a relationship and a culture of values, define ways to celebrate success together and to evaluate and refine the model over time. Be committed to that success and know that collaboration expands horizons for everyone. I write this as a self-awareness exercise, knowing that I still have miles to go before I sleep. Leadership is a constantly expanding journey of discovery and personal growth. Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership strategist, and President and Founder of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. A musical conductor for forty years, Hugh has written eight books on Transformational Leadership, and works with leaders in religious organizations and business and nonprofit communities as executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every day by orchestral conductors.
institution, mainline churches under Boomer leadership have strayed from being relevant. Both generations know it, but have few opportunities for discussion in a collaborative, non-critical environment. Parallel examples exist in social benefit organizations and the corporate world. Creating a forum for meaningful dialogue, based on relationship,is essential.We Boomers tend to be protective and proud, and are not confident in engaging Millennials because we see their generation as different from ours. Millennial Todd Greer, Executive Director of SynerVision Leadership Foundation, and I work very well together. We don’t agree on everything, but we share common values, vision, and guiding principles, which are the core of a healthy relationship. The differences we have are typically in perspective. Since we are committed to open,honest communication and have a solid relationship, we see things through a common lens. In group planning sessions, there are often points of conflict which create perceived barriers to fulfilling the vision and creating team effectiveness.This challenge is not unlike the generational challenges we perceive. Perception trumps reality, if allowed to do so. It’s our job as effective leaders to separate perception from reality and to understand what’s really happening.This means observing, reflecting, and moving toward perceived conflict as soon as it’s observed.