The Question Matters

Boomers Shock, Millennials Share

Posted in Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on March 16, 2010

Nancy Gibbs wrote a terrific column this week in Time magazine about the healthy tension that Millennials feel with Boomers.  Millennials feel a wide gap between themselves and the Boomers.  According to Nancy’s article, 79% of Millennials perceive a wide generation gap between themselves and Boomers.  Yet, they’re regularly texting their parents, she says, rather than rebelling against them.  It’s an interesting read, especially in the sense that Millennials have a sense that technology will connect us rather than divide us.  She even goes to the trouble to quote Neil Howe, who represents the best-researched ideas on generational themes.

(Before I move to more helpful comments–she fails to mention that half of the Millennials likely have Gen X parents, not Boomers.  Overlooked again…)

To be fair, Gen X is not the subject of her article, nor the object of the research she quotes.  Nevertheless, there are several themes here that Gen Xers with a mind to lead should watch carefully.

1. Millennials are breaking down isolation. As members of Gen X, we recognize the many ethnic and cultural differences among us.  That transition began in earnest during our childhood and teenage years.  Millennials see this fragmentation and seek to make connections where they would not otherwise exist.  If we as Gen X want the reins of leadership, we will look past our own fragmented reality and seek reconciliation and collaboration.

2.  Millennials are people of faith. I think Gen X has gotten a bad rap about being completely irreligious.  Millennials, like us, don’t care for organized religion.  Nancy quotes researchers saying that 25% have no religious affiliation.  That number sounds low to me, but her point is valid.  Millennials value the intangible and the invisible.  Gen X leaders will demonstrate a readiness to listen to what may sound touchy-feely, but has impact on the outcomes of family and business.  They will find space for meaning and belief and tie results to positive change in society and culture.

3.  Millennials share some of our skepticism. Gen X has received, and in many cases earned, a reputation for skepticism.  Millennials are also concerned about our future–only 41% are “satisfied with how things are going…less than a third of those with jobs earn enough to lead the kind of life they want–but 88% are confident that they will one day.”  Millennials expect better things.  Gen Xers have the opportunity to take our younger counterparts to better things if we’ll look for and identify hope where it is found. Those who can’t see past their disappointment in how life has unfolded will find themselves on the sidelines, watching Millennials take their place leading others.

And they’ll probably complain about that, too.


One Response to 'Boomers Shock, Millennials Share'

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  1. […] 1.  They make power scarce rather than sharing it.  (I think this is may be the most important shift.  I wrote on it last month.) […]

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