How to Lead Across Generations: Putting the Remix Into Practice

In today’s five-generation workforce, it is more important than ever for leaders to become skilled at overseeing employees from a wide variety of backgrounds, identities and workplace expectations. Diversity and inclusion are critical to personal and organizational success. Research shows us again and again that the more diverse the team, the better the outcomes

But that’s not to say that you as a leader won’t run into challenges managing people who aren’t similar to each other or to you. Here are some articles I found with thought-provoking tips on how to lead across generations

Remember that one size never fits all

“At the end of the day all management is individual, and effective managers intuitively understand this. The micro-level employee-manager relationship is a difference maker. What matters most, regardless of generation or gender or ethnicity, is how well you understand your employees as individuals… what motivates them and what doesn’t… what personal hopes and fears and dreams drive their attitudes and engagement.”—Read more at Forbes.

Ditch the labels

“Generational stereotypes are based on a middle-income, white, American-born demographic. The common stereotype that millennials are entitled trophy kids comes, in part, from the popular practice of handing out participation trophies in little league sports in the 1980s and 1990s. As children were praised for simply showing up, their entitled expectations grew. However, America is a melting pot of cultures, socio-economic classes, and nationalities. Children from lower-income areas might not have had access to competitive sports. Additionally, consider that over 16% of the workforce in America is foreign born. Do they give participation trophies in India?  Perhaps not so much. … Working effectively with intergenerational colleagues means giving each individual—not his or her label—due respect.”—Read more at

Everyone can use coaching

“We’ve heard that younger people are constantly asking for feedback and can’t get enough of it. We’ve also heard that older people don’t want any feedback at all. According to our research, everyone wants to know how they’re doing and wants to learn how to do better. Feedback can come in many forms, and people of all generations seem to like to receive it.”—Read more at Center for Creative Leadership.

Stand up to stereotypes

“If a stereotypical comment is made while you are present, change the tone of the conversation by pointing out something positive about the person. Viewing your employees this way and reacting appropriately can help you provide them with what they need, encouraging professional growth no matter the generation.”—Read more at US News.

Take into account their life paths and goals

“Consider where your employees are in their lives and what their needs are,” says [Jeanne C.] Meister, [a founding partner of Future Workplace, a human resources consultancy and the coauthor of The 2020 Workplace.] Younger people, for instance, typically don’t have many outside obligations; work-wise; they are motivated by new experiences and opportunities. Employees in their 30s and 40s, on the other hand, often have children and mortgages and are in need of flexibility as well as ‘money and advancement’ says [Peter] Cappelli, [professor of management at the Wharton School and coauthor of Managing the Older Worker.] Workers at the end of their careers ‘are probably not as interested in training, but they do want interesting work and work-life balance,’ he says. ‘Understanding the characteristics around these predictable life paths will help you figure out how best to [divvy up] work assignments and also the best ways to manage and motivate your team.’”Read more at HBR.

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hi, i'm lindsey!

Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


Learn 25 Practical Ways to Manage Across Generations