Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Fan of Generation X

If you're a follower of this blog and haven't seen the post on Harvard Business Blogs by Tammy Erickson about "Why Generation X Has the Leaders We Need Now," you really should. Unlike Bob Filipczak over at "Managing the Generations," Erickson feels GenX is uniquely poised to confront the leadership challenges facing our businesses and our society today. It's funny how for each "negative" charactistic Filipczak ascribes to GenX, Erickson has a positive counterbalance.

Filipczak says you're Nomads. Erickson says, "Your distrust of institutions grew as you witnessed the lay-offs of the '80s and has prompted you to value self-reliance. You have developed strong survival skills and the ability to handle whatever comes your way with resilience. X'ers instinctively maintain a well-nurtured portfolio of options and networks."

Filipczak says you're Rule Avoiders. Erickson says, "Your preference for 'alternative' and early experience in making your own way left you inclined to innovate. You tend to look for a different way forward. Your strongest arena of financial success as a generation has been your entrepreneurial achievements."

Filipczak says you're Pragmatic, too pragmatic to be visionary leaders. Erickson says, "Your pragmatism has given you practical and value-oriented sensibilities that, I believe, will help you serve as effective stewards of both today's organizations and tomorrow's world."

If you're an Xer trying to move into a leadership position, Erickson's post will warm your heart, and it warmed mine. But at the same time (being such a pragmatic Xer), I have to ask—if Erickson is right in quoting Strauss and Howe:

William Strauss and Neil Howe, coauthors of Generations, posit that each generation makes a unique bequest to those that follow and generally seeks to correct the excesses of the previous generation. They argue that the Boomer excess is ideology and that the Generation X reaction to that excess involves an emphasis on pragmatism and effectiveness.

then, isn't GenX naturally suited for leadership now the way every generation is naturally suited for leadership at the time the older generation is moving on? If each generation seeks to correct the excesses of the one preceding it, doesn't that create a natural evolution of leadership from one generation to the next? What's all the fuss about?


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