Different Generations - One Community

February 14, 2013

By Todd Arwood

Todd Arwood will serve as a presenter for the interactive Leadership Training Seminar, "Leading a Diverse Generational City," at the Congressional City Conference on March 10th, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

A core challenge for any leader over the next decade is not just about balancing the budget but effectively communicating and collaborating with the diverse generational population who reside in your community AND elected you to represent them and their needs. When you take members of different generations, blend them together in a community, and ask them to agree on the issues, you have both an opportunity and a challenge; the opportunity to engage a group of people who have unique experiences and expectations, and the challenge of dealing with the generational differences that distinguish them.

Currently there are potentially four generations working and living in your community with different expectations, motivations, attitudes, and behaviors. As a representative of your community, a firm understanding of these generational differences can not only help you gain insight into fellow colleagues but also in how you are perceived by the community at large.

For the first time in history, there are four generations living together.

The Four Generations are:

1. Traditionalists/Veterans born between 1922-1945
2. Baby Boomers born between 1946-1964
3. Generation X born between 1965-1982
4. And Millenials/Generation Y born between 1983-1997.

While it is important for you to be knowledgeable about the differences, we simply cannot delve into the mass amount of information available in this article. Thus, let's focus on some common ground strategies to help you be a more collaborative and inclusive leader.

Be an authentic leader. While Baby Boomers put high value on keeping things real, all generations crave the truth about what is really going on in their community. "Tell it like it is," a mantra of the 60s and 70s, still applies today.

Be creative. GenXers see themselves as the force behind the technological innovations that have transformed both the world and the world in which we live. Leery of the traditional and accepted, they're inspired by originality, creativity, and imagination. How could you be more creative in your approach?

Be connected. For all their ease with technology and the connections it enables, Millennials also seek the personal interaction and participation that face-to-face communication makes possible. They're comfortable connecting both ways, even at the same time. Is it time for you to establish a Facebook or twitter account for variety?

At the end of the day, as a leader, it is your responsibility to lead and serve your people....all of them. Understanding and embracing the differences and similarities in attitudes, values, and goals of the people you serve is a key component to your civic success. By increasing your knowledge and making a few tweaks to how you conduct business, you will ultimately increase your effectiveness as a leader and service to both your internal and external customers.

Dr. Todd Arwood is President of Todd Arwood Performance Partners.