Leadership Preparation: The Baby Boomer Exodus – Nu Leadership Series

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.”
Martha Washington

Have you thought about retirement? Well, I’m focusing on the enormous changes in the workforce over the next few years. Leader, are you worried? You should be! Let’s explore a critical leadership issue. With massive retirements of the Baby Boomers nearing, America needs to address the replacement workforce. Harding, who wrote Understanding Emerging Workforce Trends, describes this new replacement force as the Emergent Workforce (EW), which crosses age groups, gender, race, and geography. For the first time, America will have four different generations in the workforce. Businesses are not ready. Nonprofit organizations are not ready. Well, even in general, America is not ready. Clearly, any leader who can strategically prepare for this replacement workforce will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Are you ready?

Most large organizations are directed by transactional managers. Sadly, most leaders do not understand that some workers are not motivated by extrinsic rewards like money and promotions. Clearly, EW will expect more from contemporary leaders than the current workforce expects. According to Ashar and Lane-Maher (authors), many employees desire something more than a job and salary. Employees are now wanting guidance on finding their purpose and meaning in the workforce. Generation X and Y employees, who are also EW members, are trend-conscious, technology-savvy, idealistic, and family-focused. Unfortunately, these employees want to be involved in organizational decisions, but contemporary leaders do not embrace surrendering any power. Therefore, conflict in values from these sectors is quite likely in the future. As youth trainer, college lecturer, and mentor, I am in contact with young people regularly. I listen to adults complain about “Generation Next.” Some adults call them “know-it-all” and “disrespectful of authority.” How can you manage that talent and rage? Leader, you need to start thinking about these organizational conflicts.

It’s my claim that a direct style of leadership is preferred for this Emergent Workforce—a leadership style that inspires the workforce while focusing on the organizational mission. Northouse, author of Leadership Theory, advocates that transformational leadership is a process that changes people by focusing on emotions, values, and goals. A transformational leader’s attributes may be most effective with this EW Group. Many organizational leaders will refuse to conform to any cultural change, especially dealing with young people. What do Generation X and Y employees know about real work? Don’t make the mistake of underestimating this replacement force. It is a fatal blunder that most organizations can’t afford. Get prepare for the Emergent Workforce. Start today!


Ashar, H. & Lane-Maher, M. (2004). Success and Spirituality in the New Business Paradigm. Journal of Management Inquiry, 13(3), 249-260.

Cauchon, D. (2005). Who Will Take Care of an Older Population. USA Today. Retrieved January 26, 2006, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/20005-10-24-finances-usat_x.htm.

Hankin, H. (2005). Can We Recognize Our Future Employees. Workspan, 48(9), 12-13.

Harding, K. (2000). Understanding Emerging Workforce Trends. Retrieved January 6, 2006, from http://www.dinet/article.php?article_id=129

Northouse, P. (2004). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green