Analyzing the Future Impacts of Baby Boomer Leadership – Nu Leadership Series

“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
Vince Lombardi

Recently, I read a column by Daniel Kadlec in USA Today about the baby boomer transformation from being a “Me Generation” to a “We Generation.” Although I applaud Kadlec’s insight, we must wait to see if this generation follows through on his claim about baby boomers now being unselfish. As a scholar and practitioner, I have closely watched the demographic shifts in America.

Are baby boomers now transformed into “We Generation” leaders?
Clearly, the storyline is incomplete because we do not understand how baby boomers will respond to these future changes. Unlike hard science, futurism provides a window for many possibilities. Kadlec’s article focuses on one probable outcome, but there are others. What if baby boom managers refuse to relinquish their positions and neglect the development of future leaders?

As baby boomer retirement moves ahead, a new generation of leaders will replace them. These new leaders will cross age groups, gender, race, and geography. A recent Department of Labor report, Futurework: Trends and Challenges for the Work in the 21st Century, reveals that this rapid demographic shift will impact the future dynamics of organizations.
However, I am not convinced that baby boomers will retire at all. A study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College explains that the average retirement age in the U.S. is 63.

Unfortunately, this retirement study reveals that many individuals will need to work longer so that they will have adequate retirement reserves. Therefore, many baby boomers will prolong their stay in organizations and maintain their leadership positions. How does that impact the stability of organizations in successive planning?

As a Generation X member, I see many experts, who are primarily baby boomers, downplay the impacts of the younger generation. This observation goes to the heart of the ‘Me Generation.’ When Generation X and Echo Boomers finally assume these leadership positions, organizations may face growing tension. Will baby boomers act like mature leaders in this organizational transformation or will they operate in a selfish manner? We must wait and see. The future has endless possibilities.

References:

Kadlec, D. (August 2, 2006). ‘Me Generation’ becomes ‘We Generation.’ USA Today.

Ruffenach, G. (August 7, 2006). Work Longer, Not Forever. Knoxville News Sentinel.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green