Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Are Generation X’ers Built to Lead?

Members of Generation X are suited for leadership according to researcher/writer Tamara J. Erickson. She states that those who came of age in the 70s and 80s responded to their parents' idealism with practicality and self-reliance. These workers value innovation, diverse viewpoints, and hard work... all keys to leadership success according to Erickson (HarvardBusiness.org/Across the Ages blog .

My research found that today's challenging workplace requires leaders juggle four fundamental leadership styles regardless of their generation:

RATIONAL - Focus on the Facts
The rational leadership style is the left-brain, logical thinking side of leadership. Leaders who are highly skilled in this style clearly define their and their team members' roles. They excel at setting short-term objectives and generating detailed plans with milestones. Performance expectations are plainly spelled out. Because they actively seek feedback, effective rational leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of those around them. They stay in touch with their team members, peers, their boss and their customers.

VISIONARY - Imagine the Future
The visionary leadership style is the creative, dreamer aspect of leadership. Those highly skilled in this style create flexible approaches to solve problems, make decisions and achieve strategic goals. They bring new products, services or processes to fruition. They are effective in launching cross-functional experiments. Visionary leaders also inspire others to question the status quo by embracing change, creativity, and open-mindedness. They enjoy reflecting on global issues, thinking about long-term consequences and pondering future possibilities.

The empowering leadership style is the servant side of leadership. Those highly skilled in this style enable others to do their best every day by delegating well, as well as coaching and involving team members in decisions. They are masters at orchestrating diverse individuals into high-performing, energized teams that work well across the enterprise. Empowering leaders build trust and empathy by patiently listening to other perspectives and beliefs without prejudgment. They also demonstrate fairness, honesty, integrity, and humility in their interactions.

COMMANDING - Take Charge
The commanding leadership style is the strong, forceful side of leadership. Those skilled in this style work extremely hard to fulfill commitments. They push to accomplish tasks, projects and goals on time. They are not afraid to solicit opposing views when making important decisions. They are also comfortable with ambiguity; they don't need all the data in order to move forward. Commanding leaders control their emotions and moods under pressure. In addition, they refuse to allow themselves or their team to play the victim during adversity. They take personal responsibility for their choices and consequences.

What do you think? Does Generation X have what it takes?

Keep eXpanding,


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