Viewpoint: Let's get beyond the generation game

22 May 2015
Viewpoint: Let's get beyond the generation game

Hotelier Chris Penn has lost patience with seminars that treat Gen Xers as a homogeneous group. It's time to talk about individuals and personalised leadership, he argues

If I have to read another article on Generation X and how we can categorise each few years of life as ‘a generation' and then clump together their mindsets and tendencies, I will go crazy.

So what is my issue? When I look around, I am surrounded by diversity. I work in environments that contain multitudes of people at different ages, with different behaviours, looks, preferences, mindsets and drivers. Yet when I lead them - if I act on the seminars and presentations - I am forced to believe they fall into certain categories, and as long as I understand the category by which they are defined and run their life, I will be able to 'engage' them.

This is nonsense. The one key factor that I notice in these individuals (yes, individuals), is that they are all unique. I like to think of their minds as similar to their fingertips: it is what makes them an individual and there are no two fingerprints the same.

Regardless of which generation your employees come from, my belief is that the best way to treat them is as a human being with unique needs and expectations. That is the only sure way of engaging them. While it is much harder to operate in this way as opposed to the laziness of leadership by generational classification, it is the right thing to do. I am a human, so are they. I am different, so are they.

So please can presenters stop referring to generations and start referring to personalised leadership. I, for one, am pretty bored of seeing individuals patronised by being asked to raise their hands if they were born after 1980 and then being told that they therefore adopt a stereotypical point of view on life and work.

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