There is a lot of conversation about the next generation of leaders these days but there is a big miss in how we are framing the discussion.
Today, when you here someone say the next generation of leaders, they are primarily referring to Millenials. There’s only one problem with this, Millenials are not the next generation of leaders. Let me explain.
The Boomer generation of leadership is framing much of the next generation conversation today and frankly, they are creating a lot of confusion in the process. You see, when Boomer’s were handed the baton of leadership as the next generation, their parents (Busters) were relatively young; many of them taking early retirement at 55 or 60. This meant that Boomers were handed the baton as the next generation of leaders at a much earlier age than GenX is now projected to get it.
Because Boomers are holding on to their leadership for much longer than their parents did, it creates a bottleneck of leadership. While GenX has reached maturity and are in our best years of leadership, in many ways, we’re still waiting for the leadership baton to be make it into our hands.
With Boomers primarily in their 60’s and 70’s, they are thinking about their legacy as leaders and when they think about legacy, they think about their grandchildren. This is part of the reason why Boomers are a bit obsessed with Millenials. The problem? Although Millenials are very gifted, they don’t have the age and maturity to lead at the highest levels yet – they need to have more years of being shaped by life and mentoring by the next generation of leaders – GenX leaders.
We have to get this right or we will miss the best, most productive years of GenX leadership and put our Millenials leaders (most of whom are children of GenX) in a difficult position trying to lead things they are not yet fully prepared to lead.
The good news? GenX is positioned perfectly to be the generational leadership bridge to the future! I will write more about this next week.