It’s no secret that there are (often large) discrepancies in the way various generations approach their professionalism and the business world at large. It seems that almost weekly, there is an article in the paper about how Millennials are lazy and entitled, especially within the corporate world, or the brain drain feared once the Baby Boomers start retiring. Some of these accounts may be generalizations or blown out of proportion, but one thing is clear: there are, in fact, significant differences between generations within the workplace, both in their attitudes towards the workplace as well as the skills and knowledge they bring to the table.
So what does this mean for you? Well, regardless of what generation you may fall under, there are a few important things to remember: firstly, know where you fit along the generational continuum. Do you fit the traditional profile? If so, in what way, and if not, then why? Introspection is so important, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses is, if nothing else, an excellent way to boost your Executive Presence. Secondly, once this introspection has taken place and you’re more familiar with “yourself,” recognize that in certain situations, you will likely need to stretch yourself.
“What do you mean, stretch myself?”
The ability to stretch yourself – to get out of your comfort zone, to adapt to your surroundings – is directly tied to these generational differences in the workplace. According to the Ginsberg’s, for example, Baby Boomers lead the way with their Executive Presence, with over a 30% increase over Gen X, and a 60% lead over the Millennials. However, Baby Boomers fall way behind when we look at collaboration, where they sit at a comfortable 20%, with Gen X leading the way at 53%.
Each generation comes with its own set of special skills and challenges – they are a product of the education, technology and societal expectations of that time. When we say stretch yourself, the idea is by no means to change yourself, but rather to be able to adapt (Baby Boomers, this one’s for you!) to your surroundings, and recognize who’s around the table with you.
Perhaps stretching yourself means adjusting your negotiating style, or maybe even your leadership style in certain situations. The ability to observe and take in what’s going on around you and to act accordingly is certainly a testament to your Executive Presence and will show others that you have what it takes to reach your potential, and even beyond.
Infographic image source: Overcoming Generational Differences Between Employees