Facebook circle icon Linkedin circle icon Twitter circle icon Bullet point icon Navigation menu icon Read icon Video Icon Video icon Newsletter icon Target icon Instagram Icon Search Icon Scroll to top arrow Social share icon play icon pause icon unmute icon mute icon

Wednesday 6th Mar 2024

Leading Across Generations: 8 essential skills for leaders

Generational diversity is a competitive advantage because everyone brings different strengths, but the key for leaders is understanding what those generational strengths are and how to harness them.

Leading across generations, what does this actually mean? Think about your office today. Do you know how many different generations work there? Or even which generation individuals belong to? I suspect there may be more generational diversity than you realise.

The real-world workforce comprises more than just one generation. In fact, the 2020 decade brings five generations simultaneously active in today’s workforce, each with different perspectives and expectations of the workplace. Generation Z is just entering the office, while the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers are in the throes of retirement. And let’s remember Gen X and the Millennials. By 2025, roughly 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials.

How do I lead across generations?

Firstly, by understanding who the five generations in the workplace are.

Leading across five different generations

Now that you know who the five generations are, you must understand more about them and what makes them tick.

Five generations: Traditionalist

Five generations: Baby Boomers

Five generations: Generation X

Five generations: Millennials

Five generations: Generation Z

Leading across generations brings challenges, as each generation has unique styles, needs, goals, and traits. So, leaders must create a sense of belonging where they all feel valued and engaged. This requires leaders to build an open and transparent environment where employees of all ages can thrive, work together, and learn from each other.

Leading Across Generations

Eight essential skills for leaders to lead across five generations

#1 Communication Mastery

Using a mix of communication channels is essential as leaders adapt their communication style and method to engage and inspire employees of different generations. *87% of millennials prefer digital communication, and 78% of baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication. (*Infoprolearning.com)

#2 Cultural Understanding

A leader’s ability to draw out the strengths of each generation is crucial. Helping less tech-savvy leaders embrace Gen Zs on their team instead of being intimidated by their digital skills or encouraging experienced Baby Boomers to share their expertise with Millennials to help them grow professionally are two examples of how leaders can achieve this.

#3 Emotional Intelligence

Leaders who demonstrate high emotional intelligence skills, such as communication, empathy, active listening, and their ability to motivate, are essential for placing teams’ common goals, rather than their generational differences, at the centre of the workplace conversation.

#4 Creative Thinking

Leaders who recognise that iterative creative thinking builds upon existing ideas and concepts slowly over time, AND revolutionary creative thinking, where ideas are taken from scratch in a radically different way, are two methods with merits. Both approaches can bring something to the table.

#5 Strong Facilitation

Leaders who can facilitate respectful discussion and reframe generational differences as opportunities for group learning help promote cross-generational collaboration, bridge the generational gap, and empower the next generation of talent.

#6 A Focus on Flexibility

For the millennials and Gen Z, flexibility in the workplace is a non-negotiable, with *72% of millennials seeking flexibility in their workplace (*Infoprolearning.com).

Those leaders who can give team members flexibility and a healthy work-life balance through a hybrid work model, where they can experience all of the benefits of on-site learning and development while still accomplishing their jobs remotely, create a win-win working environment.

#7 Technological fluency

Technological fluency is the ability to quickly adapt to emerging tools and platforms by harnessing the power of digital solutions to solve complex problems. With Gen Z expected to represent 27% of the workforce by 2025, leaders will rely on their fresh digital perspective. As the first fully global generation, Gen Z is shaped in the 21st century, connected through digital devices and engaged through social media. They are the digital integrators, having integrated technology seamlessly into their lives.

#8 Mobilise Mentoring

Leaders who implement mentoring initiatives value the speed at which knowledge is gained and transferred whilst building a culture of collaboration, growth, and learning. 75%* of Gen X and baby boomers value mentorship opportunities. (*Infoprolearning.com)

Five generations: Essential skills for leaders

Leading a multi-generational workforce is all about embracing differences while being mindful of the varying priorities of each generation.

With Baby Boomers striving for job security, Millennials pursuing career progression, Gen Xers prioritising work-life harmony, and Gen Zers seeking sustainability and social alignment, awareness of each generation’s differing objectives helps leaders create an environment where everyone’s needs are fulfilled.


On-Demand Webinar

Leading Remotely

Subscribe to business & personal growth insights

* Required field

YES, please sign me up to receive value adding email marketing communications focused on growing businesses and unlocking people potential which includes; highlights from your weekly blog, invites to webinars and events, offers and free resources

You may withdraw this consent at any time by emailing us or updating your preferences. We will process your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy


**Cookies Notice** - If you continue to use our website we may assume that you consent to our use of cookies

I Agree