eGen X is ready to assume leadership in the business world due to their strong critical thinking skills, flexibility, and sensitivity to life/work balance.
Have you ever wondered how the corporate world is going to look in the next generation?
A lot of it depends on the kind of leadership companies invest in now. Strategic succession planning is crucial to building businesses that last. You don’t want new leadership to be stuck in the past or trapped in a silo. The sweet spot is a leader who uses her knowledge of history to guide the company forward with enough flexibility to allow for self-reflection and the ability to learn from mistakes.
It’s tempting to think that high-achieving Millennials are the perfect choice to fill the slots about to be vacated by retiring Boomers, right? I’m here to argue that the understated choice, Gen X, has more of the leadership qualities it takes to preside over the future business world.
Technology as a Tool, Not a Magic Bullet
Millennials grew up with technology. They are comfortable with its language. But technological expertise per se is not a leadership qualification. We are still human beings subject to emotional responses. It’s easy to get sidetracked by shiny objects.
This is where Gen X has a clear advantage. They are technologically adept, but they remember the days before computers and cell phones. That gives Gen X the context to view technology as a tool, rather than a way of life.
Having lived through two major recessions, Gen-Xers are a thoughtful group who understand that what goes up is probably going come hurtling back to earth. That means they are likely to use critical thinking when framing important questions, such as, “What are the limits of technology?” And they are much more likely to make structural decisions first, then find the technology to power them. They are less likely to try to run an organization around the latest dot.com innovation.
Critical Thinking for Global Problems
Back in 2010, the Harvard Business Review was already lamenting the decline in critical thinking skills. They argued that the focus on quantitative over qualitative skills in MBA programs had caused critical thinking to drop “by the wayside.” The problem is only getting worse. Stephen Camarata, the author of The Intuitive Child, points out that the lack of critical thinking among today’s college grads is an “emerging crisis.”
Critical thinking is a vital leadership characteristic that differentiates a good leader from a great one. The ability to take different perspectives into consideration when developing a plan is important. Critical thinking is especially important for engagement within the twenty-first-century corporate environment. Strategies need to account for global impact and accommodate different cultures’ needs.
Raised before the days of helicopter parenting and left to develop their own neural pathways, Gen Xers learned how to think critically. They are also independent thinkers who have a healthy skepticism for authority. As prospective leaders, they have the most potential to be global innovators.
Focus on the Life/Work Conundrum
Too many American workers are at a crisis point, suffering from chronic sleep deprivation and stress. Their lack of engagement due to these distractions hurts productivity. This is a contributing factor in the rapid churn some companies experience. That’s probably why, according to a 2017 study, offering amenities that restore life/work balance are a valued trade-off. This is so valuable that workers are willing to accept a lower salary in return.
Gen X is notorious for the value they already place on life-work balance. As leaders, they are likely to create trade-offs that encourage valuable workers to stay on the job through family crises that can spur workers, particularly women, into early retirement.
Realize Your Leadership Potential
Never fear, Gen-Xers. You may feel like a neglected middle child sandwiched between two high-profile generations. You work hard to develop resilience and independence — and you don’t necessarily do it for the attention.
Nurture these qualities into leadership skills that get you noticed. A trained ICF coach, certified Intelligent Leadership Coach, and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Chris Gossard knows how to draw out your strengths and transform them into leadership potential. Contact Chris today to find out how to climb through the leadership ranks.