Leadership Development: Preparation for Generation X and Y Employees – Nu Leadership Series

“It’s odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don’t quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.”
Lady Bird Johnson

What will happen will the Baby Boomers retire? Let’s explore the issues with leading this Emergent Workforce, primarily Generation X-Y. Some critic may argue that my warning is premature. Organizations have always weathered the cultural storms. Don’t follow any of these management fads. This is no fad, Leader! Here’s the problem. The current organization promotes a “top-down” leadership approach, which elevates technology while devaluing employees. Bennis, a leadership expert, argues that although management claims they are for worker empowerment, it smells of rhetoric. The current workforce desires a paradigm shift but lacks the power to implement change.

In contrast, Generation X-Y employees desire certain organizational values. I’ve heard business owners complain about young people leaving jobs because they were unhappy. Most traditional managers simply cannot understand this mentality. The Emergent Workforce will not be so passive. They will not accept being invisible or “doing as you are told, kid.” These divergent viewpoints create a crisis for organizational leaders. In the article, “The Compassionate Organization in the 21st Century,” Hill and Stephens suggest that this Emergent-Workforce Leader must offer a participative, democratic environment for this cross-generational workforce. Based on the values subscribed to by this Emergent Workforce, I theorize that this new leadership model will encompass transformational leadership and servant leadership. Therefore, if organizational leaders demonstrate these values, then future leaders will gain support from this Emergent Workforce. If you don’t, all “Hell” may break lose. Don’t lose this competitive advantage. Start today!

Draft, organizational guru, argues, however, that organizational change will only occur when managers see a gap between actual and desired performance. Will outright employee rebellion be the only method to change this leadership paradigm?


Bennis, W. (1999). The End of Leadership: Exemplary Leadership is Impossible Without Full Inclusion, Initiatives, and Cooperation of Followers. Organizational Dynamics. 28(1), 71-80.

Draft, R. (1995). Organizational Theory and Design. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.

Hill, R. and Stephens, D. (2003). The Compassionate Organization in the 21st Century. Organizational Dynamics 32(1), 331-341.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green