Baby Boomers and the Millennials Leadership Prospects

Baby Boomers and the Millennials Leadership Prospects


Leadership is an important aspect to the success of any organization. All leaders in any organization must ensure that they have the type of leadership that is in alignment with the organizational goals. Nevertheless, it should be noted that generational differences in the workplace plays a significant role to the different leadership styles employed in the business world today. The different generations available in these workplaces may bring problems in terms of communication and different mindsets from people born in different times. There might also be some technological problems and work patterns amongst the different groups and it is prudent for business leaders to be wary of such instances.

For instance, baby boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964. These people are considered as competitive and great thinkers. On the other hand, the millennial generation is those people that were born around 1977 to 2000s. This group is considered to like team work, feedback and technology.  It is therefore essential to note that the two generations are adorned with different values and expectations (Hedge & Borman, 2012). Therefore leadership styles must vary to ensure that the take advantage of the differences in values and expectations of the different groups. Failure to address the generational difference effectively will ultimately lead to other problems such as retention problems and legal tussles. This paper will look into the different leadership styles and how they are affected by the generational differences.

Transformational and Charismatic

Transformational and charismatic leadership are among the leading leadership styles available in the modern organizational setting.  A charismatic leader is considered as a person with distinct qualities or personalities that set them apart from the ordinary people. Such people are said to be natural leaders and have wisdom to lead as others follow. Under this form of leadership, followers make heroic or extra ordinary leadership abilities on their leaders. They are visionary and ready to take risks to achieve organizational goals.  On the other hand, transformational leadership involves motivating and inspiring others to work towards a common organizational goal (Roberts, 2012). Unlike in charismatic leadership where leaders have total authority and control of all the affairs in the organization, followers under transformational leadership make their voices in achieving organizational goals. Transformational leaders are able to arouse, excite and encourage followers to be more creative and innovative as they pursue organizational goals.

It should be noted that the Baby Boomers and the millennial have different ways through which they take the two most common leadership styles. For instance, it is said that charisma is more important to the Baby Boomers as it is to the millennial. It is said that charismatic leaders will use charisma to connect with their followers and ensure that the organizational goals are realized. Charismatic leaders are known to dominate and have great personal influence that is likely to cause a celebrity nature that may look appealing to the young generation. However, this is not the case and the millennial generation does not in any way value charisma.

Millennials will always view charisma less critical to them and prefer a transformational form of leadership. The younger generation intends to be inspired and more motivated to achieve their organizational as well as develop their careers.  It is a generation that has been brought up during difficult times and feels challenged to turn around all the bad things they have witnessed as they grow up. The advances in technology and digital media have also been a significant explanation as to why the millenneals are against the charismatic leadership (Hedge & Borman, 2012). They are always in a strife to ensure that the future is brighter than the past thro ugh constant innovation and creative adventures. It is therefore imperative for leaders in the leadership position to understand that charisma is not of great value amongst the youths as it is to the older generation or the Baby Boomers.

On the contrary, baby boomers have great value to charisma. This is explained by the fact that, as people grow older, charisma becomes of paramount to them. Consequently, baby boomers will have more trust in their leaders as opposed to the millennial who always intend o pursue their own destiny.  The baby boomers grew in time when there was no technology and hence they have grown up in an era where they were very much attuned to the effects of charisma. Lack of technology allows interaction and hence it is easy for the baby boomers to embrace charisma as a form of effective leadership.

Leadership and Motivation

Just like there are different views on charisma between the two generations, leaders must also remember that the two generations have different leadership and motivational approaches. Both the baby boomers and millennials have different views on leadership and authority.  In natural thinking, people might think that the millenials are more anti-authority as compared to the baby boomers. This is however not the case as the younger generation are more amenable to managers orders (Motivation, Leadership and Curriculum design, 2015). Previous studies have confirmed that hierarchical leadership was not considered an effective leadership amongst the baby boomers. Nevertheless, the millennial are said to be of the opinion that hierarchal leadership offered the best and effective leadership possible.  It is therefore prudent for leaders to note that a hierarchical leadership style would be more welcome amongst the millenneals as opposed to the baby boomers (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2013). The resistance amongst the baby boomers can be attributed to the fact that the people in this group were brought up during the civil rights movements, cold war, sexual revolution and Vietnam War. They also include post war children who grew up to be radicals of the 70s and yuppies of the 1980s. The environment in which they were brought up was surrounded by rebellion and wars and hence they are always against leadership orders. On the other hand, the millenneals are a group of children brought up in times of economic expansion and hence readily accept leaders’ orders (Roberts, 2012). The group was also kept busy as kids and was also first generation of children with schedule. All these experiences have served to equip this generation with skills and wisdom to embrace leadership orders.

On the same note, it should be noted that older or the baby boomers seems to prefer participative leadership as opposed to the millenneals.  Previous studies indicate that the older generation prefers team oriented and humane leadership as compared to the younger generation. It is therefore prudent for leaders to note that they should show respect and consideration to the views of the older generation. The non-authoritative nature of the baby boomers makes them demand respect from the leaders and consequently participative leadership seems favorable (Motivation, Leadership and Curriculum design, 2015). On the other hand, the millennial generation does not necessarily favor participative leadership but instead are much in need of team work and career development.  They   require a challenging environment through which they can nurture their innovative and creativity.

The generational differences also play a significant role in the motivation of employees. For instance, the baby boomers are too much materialistic and hence any motivational approach must consider material gains. It is therefore for leaders to understand that baby boomers can only be motivated through materials things such as money, land and presents. On the other hand, the mellennials are less materialistic and are interested in pursuing their careers (“Generations at work: managing the clash of veterans, boomers, Xers, and Nexters in your workplace”, 2000). This group can only be motivated through knowing their capabilities and putting them in roles that push their limits. It is also imperative to note that the young generation has great value for their jobs and hence any sign of recognition in their professions will be a great motivation to them. Managers and leaders should therefore treat them like professionals and they will act like professionals. It is also essential to understand that the millennials want mangers who are highly engaged in their personal development even as they pursue the organizational goals (Hedge & Borman, 2012). In essence, the two generation has different views on their responsibilities and hence the leadership in the organization must understand the different preferences to get the right leadership and motivational processes that will improve the overall performance of the organization.

Handling Team Conflict

Conflicts are inevitable in any workplace. Workplace conflict of any type can be counterproductive and stressful, and can create an environment that does not encourage employee longevity. However, it is the responsibility of an effective leadership to ensure that there are reduced levels of conflicts and ensure that conflicts are resolved amicably when they arise. Existence of difference generation in the workplace calls for effective understanding of the likes and dislikes amongst the different generations to enable reduce frequency of conflicts and also enable in solving these conflicts (Tang, Cunningham, Frauman, Ivy, & Perry, 2012). It is essential for leaders to identify the values and characteristics of the two generations to ensure that they are able to deal effectively with the issue of conflicts in the work place.

To start with, leaders should be aware that the baby boomers are less likely to be in a conflict as compared to the millennial. It should be note that the core values of the baby boomers are optimism and involvement while those of the millennials are realism, confidence, extreme fun and socialism.  In pursuit of these values, the millennial become more vulnerable to conflicts as opposed to the baby boomers. Leaders should therefore be prepared to solve conflicts arising from this generation as opposed to those arising from the older generation. This does not however mean that the baby boomers are entirely free of conflicts and therefore organizational leadership must also equally be prepared to deal with conflicts emanating from all generations.

As long as conflicts are inevitable in any work place, it is important to point out that the baby boomers are idealistic, self driven individuals who are willing to make both personal and professional sacrifices to achieve consensus. These are very essential attributes in conflict resolution. Managers and business leaders should understand that the Boomers have great team spirit and collaboration and hence it is easy to resolve conflicts arising from this group (“Generations at work: managing the clash of veterans, boomers, Xers, and Nexters in your workplace”, 2000). Since they also value their work, the Boomers will also strive to ensure that they avoid any disturbance that would be a hindrance to their work objectives. Baby Boomers are also considered to be political micro managers who despise laziness and any other obstruction to their careers. Consequently resolving conflicts arising from such groups is quite manageable.

On the contrary, the millennial are prone to conflict and at the same time it’s also difficult to resolve conflicts that emerge from this generation. It is classified as the most confident and optimistic group in the work place. In addition, they are perceived to have poor communication and problem solving skills thus making it difficult to deal with conflicts arising from them. They are also not committed to their jobs and hence do not care about time lost by sideshows and workplace conflicts. The millennial are also fearless and will always speak their mind despite the leadership position (Tang, Cunningham, Frauman, Ivy, & Perry, 2012).  This is a major cause of conflict amongst the millineal as they are always ready to argue and they do not easily get compromised. Leaders should also note that the generation demands instant feedback and are creative and innovative generation. Consequently, the leaders should distinguish between the characteristics and values of the two groups to ensure that they are able to effectively handle the inevitable workplace conflicts.

The Role of Followers

It is imperative to note that the two generations have different roles as followers. Leaders must know the different values and characteristics to enable them embrace the different roles amongst the different generations in a workplace. For instance, it should be noted that the number of millennial generation in the modern workplaces is plummeting at an alarming speed. Managers and leaders must remain focused to ensure that they are able to manage and lead these young workers towards achievement of the organizational goal (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2013).  It is also important for these leaders to be proactive in ensuring that they foster collaborative intergenerational teamwork which can only be achieved by understanding the different roles of these followers.

To start with, the millennial are a group of people who are described as an ethnically diverse generation. They are also team players, confident, optimistic, rule followers, trusting authority and result oriented generation.  Consequently, it is easy for managers and business leaders to identify these characteristics to enable them to be good leaders to these different followers.   For instance, it is worth noting that the young generation trust the authority and are rule followers. This implies that the generation is aware of their position as followers in the achievement of the organizational goals. Leaders and managers leading this category of employees must therefore ensure they stamp their authority in the management of the organizational affairs (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2013). It is imperative to always provide the necessary guidance to the followers as they agree to take second fiddle in the daily operations of the organization. Nevertheless, leaders must also be considerate as they deal with this generation as it has their restrictions in the characters and values.

Besides being rule followers, the millennial generation offers diversity in different ways. It is a generation whose racial and ethnic profile is far more diverse as compared to the baby boomers and other generations. This offers a special feeling in the workplace as the different cultural and racial diversity only serve to improve the productivity of the workers. It is also seem to have a more egalitarian view on the role of women than previous generations (Hobart & Sendek, 2014). As a result, the roles of women in the modern day business are much more appreciated than it was during the previous generations. It is therefore prudent for leaders to ensure that they embrace this role in their management affairs and this will ensure that the women feel appreciated as they fulfill their obligations. Also, the leadership must be aware of the role played by technology in the management of the millennials to ensure that there is no generation conflict emerging from technological differences. Also, millenials seek institutions with flexible careers and schedules that will enable them maximize on opportunities that may arise during the course of business (Tang, Cunningham, Frauman, Ivy, & Perry, 2012). This is an important aspect that leadership must be aware of for an efficient and effective leadership on the young generation.

On the other hand, the baby boomers have different roles as opposed to the millenials. Most of the employees who fall under this generation are already retired or nearing the retirement age.  It should however be noted that they have great value for their jobs and hence they find it difficult to accept retirement even when their time of service elapses. They are also adamant and demand participative leadership where their inputs in managing the affairs of the business matters. Unlike the millenials who trust the authority and are rule followers, the baby boomers are rebellious and feel that they should be consulted in decision making processes. They have great value for collaboration and team work and therefore leaders must create a business environment where team work will thrive (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2013). Boomers are also known to be big admirers of recognition and titles that will serve as great motivating factor.   It is also worth noting the majority of people in the Boomers generation are not technology conscious and consequently leadership must use technology sparingly to make sure that members from this group also feel appreciated and recognized in their efforts of achieving organizational goals.

Empowering People to Meet Higher Needs

It is the role of the leadership and organizational management to ensure that they empower the employees to ensure that they meet higher needs. Nevertheless, generational differences in the modern day workplace calls for special leadership talent to ensure that all the different generations in a workplace maximize on their potential. The presence of different generations in a single workplace offers a vast pool of talent and skill that forms the most important resource in the firm. Nevertheless, this vast pool may not be of any help if the leadership of the organization fails to effectively use their strengths, enable their success, and engage them in kind of efforts that bring the best out of everyone regardless of their generational differences (“Generations at work: managing the clash of veterans, boomers, Xers, and Nexters in your workplace”, 2000). Since the financial performance of any organization is strongly related to the degree to which its employees are engaged, the stakes are high, the rewards substantial.

To start with, the millenials are recognized as a generation that is very sensitive to technology.  It is therefore essential for leaders in these organizations to ensure that they integrate technology in the daily operations. Use of technology amongst the young generation will help in ensuring that things get done fast and efficient. For instance, the mode of communication with use of internet and mobile device can help empower this generation for optimum performance.  It should also be noted millenials also prefer active engagement that they believe serves to fulfill their personal goals as well as the organizational goals (Hobart & Sendek, 2014). This means that the millennial will feel empowered if they are engaged constructively in the management of business affairs. There is also great collaboration between the diverse populations in the young generation which serves to improve the levels of productivity in the organization. It is therefore essential for leaders to ensure that they create a business environment where collaboration and engagement thrives (Motivation, Leadership and Curriculum design, 2015). This will ensure that the millennial will be empowered and will meet higher needs that will be beneficial to the organization as well as to their career development.

On the other hand, baby boomers will require a different approach to their empowerment program.  As aforementioned, this generation was brought up during a time where they experience so much radicalization. As a result, the group is mainly of people who are determined to maintain what they think is rightfully theirs. Unlike the millennial who will obey the authority without questioning, the Boomers needs participation and collaboration in major decision making processes. In addition, the generation is also said to have great value for titles and recognition in their places of work (Motivation, Leadership and Curriculum design, 2015). With this in mind, the leadership in such organizations must always recognize their efforts and accord them lucrative titles. Such approach will be instrumental in the empowerment process of the boomers (Hedge & Borman, 2012). They are also believed to have high confidence levels which should be cultivated to ensure that they meet higher needs.  Although they are not technology conscious, it is the obligation of the management to integrate technology in their operations to make sure that they achieve the organizational goals fast and with increased efficiency. This will also be a strong point in the empowerment process.

Moral Leadership Today (acting like a moral leader)

As aforementioned, the different generations have different values and characters which have significant effect on leadership style. A person who is valued as a moral leader by the baby boomers may not be morally right when it comes to the millenneals.  For instance, in our earlier analysis, it is evident that the baby boomers are great admirers of charismatic leaders while the millennial see nothing special in charisma. The young generation is always in need of new challenge and in their view, a moral leader is the one who will offer a chance for innovation and creativity (Tang, Cunningham, Frauman, Ivy, & Perry, 2012).. Making a moral leader will require one to understand the different needs of the different people in the workplace.  A moral leader should be able to bring everyone together in the work place.

Boomers are known as people who like collaboration and have great value for their work. On the other hand, the millennial are interested in developing their career. A moral leader in the view of the boomers is the one giving directives on the way forward. This is however not the case with the young generation. The millennial want to get fast results with use of technology and multi-tasking. In their view, a moral leader is the one giving them a chance to develop their careers (Zemke, Raines, & Filipczak, 2013).. They are self-starters who prefer a collaborative environment. In essence, the two generations have different values and leaders must have a clear understanding to ensure an inclusive working environment.


In conclusion, it is important for the business world to understand that every workplace will have people from different generations. The millennial and the baby boomers are the most prevalent generations in the modern day work place. These different generations have different values and characteristics that make them different from each other. However, these differences are vital for better performance of the firm since they have different strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, offering effective leadership to the different generations remains a major challenge to the business world (Hobart & Sendek, 2014).  It is therefore important for business leaders to device means that will enable them engage a mix of people with different experiences and skills for the betterment and overall improvement of the firm. Since the teams will not be managed differently, leaders must come up with strategies that will ensure that all the generations in the firm are recognized.


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