Are You Ready for the Next Wave of Leadership? Generation X

Wait, this isn’t an article about millennials? No, it is not! So much has been said and written about millennials that it’s easy to forget that generation X follows baby boomers in the demographic queue.

That fact is critically important because over half of all baby boomers are now in their early 60’s, or older. The Pew Research Center estimates that, on average, 10,000 baby boomers become eligible to retire every day. Gen X managers, born from the mid-1960’s to the early-1980’s, are most likely to be filling senior leadership positions.

Your business may have already felt the impact of this generational transition. In fact, according to research conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI), gen X executives now hold 51% of leadership roles globally.

Are you effectively preparing gen X executives to lead your company? 

Gen X employees tend to be adept with technology, are hard-working, committed to professional development, and loyal. Many are 20 years or more into their careers. DDI reports that, compared to baby boomers and millennials, gen Xers are the most overlooked cohort for promotion, and have been the slowest to advance.

If gen Xers feel stagnant or bored, they will leave. Many see baby boomers retiring and millennials showered with attention, and wonder, “What’s next for me?”

It is also important to note the impact of being part of the pre-smart phone “latchkey” generation. Often left to take care of themselves between the end of school and mom or dad coming home from work — and before smart phone apps and wifi cameras tracked every move — gen Xers grew up independent. They organized their time and became used to managing themselves.

So they often have difficulty with millennials who seem to require constant interaction, feedback, and affirmation. A recent Fast Company article, “Why You Need To Pay Attention To Gen X Leaders,” notes, that a gen X manager “thinks he or she is doing his or her team a favor by leaving them alone to do their job. They’re managing others like they would like to be managed — get the work done, avoid the distractions, and go home.” For great insights about how gen Xers can better work with millennials, read Arden Coaching’s article, “How to Manage Millennials: Advice for Generation X.”

Gen X executives value coaching and professional development

Gen Xers express a strong interest in increasing their expertise from outside of their organization. DDI research reports that 67 percent of gen X leaders said that they would like more external coaching, and 57 percent wanted external professional development.

Executive coaching offers exceptional benefits for gen X executives. Executive coaching pushes leaders to grow professionally and personally, break down the barriers of their corporate comfort zones, and develop the skills required to take them to the next level of leadership. Executive coaches provide awareness, accountability, and direction to help people hone their skills and realize their full potential. Gen Xers also have unique coaching needs. For more about this, read Arden Coaching’s article, “Executive Coaching Needs Differ Between Younger and Older Executives.”

Another approach is to create a cohort of high potential gen X executives and provide group training. Arden Coaching’s Leadership Academy (ALA) was designed with groups like these, as well as conventional teams, in mind.

ALA delivers a unique two-tier approach which combines group training modules — based on learning topics selected to address your company’s highest priorities —  with individual, one-on-one executive coaching. Bringing advanced group training and individual coaching to these “teams” within your organization generates impressive results and elevates groups and teams to the next level of leadership and executive development.

Passing the baton of functional skills such as finance, marketing, or sales is one thing; passing on executive leadership expertise, team performance skills, and the essence of an organization’s culture is another. That’s essential for long-term organizational effectiveness and profitability. For organizations that wish to recruit or retain their gen X talent, executive coaching and leadership development will resonate with their gen X executives.

To learn more about leadership development, executive coaching, and Arden Coaching’s Leadership Academy, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.