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The Leadership Gap and Why Baby Boomers Need to Step Up

It’s a fact: Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 – 1964) are retiring at a greater rate than ever. Many, like myself, had to delay their departure from corporate life due to the recent recession but are now making up for lost time by finding alternative ways to make up their retirement pot deficit to live the life they have dreamed of for years.

They are doing this by creating lifestyle businesses of their own, increasingly online, where they can utilise the actual technology that was one of the reasons for their decline in face to face communication and hence engagement within company cultures over the past 20 years.

They are doing this by leveraging 4 key aspects of their life:

  1. Leveraging other people’s products. Why create your own when others have done already?
  2. Leveraging other people by outsourcing the not so exciting jobs.
  3. Leveraging other people’s tools, like autoresponders, ready-made websites.
  4. Leveraging their own time by creating repeatable and easily transmittable content to avid learners.

They are dismissing the myth that Time is Money and creating a whole new economy in the process.

The Gap

This new wave of boomer entrepreneurs leaving corporate life, whilst growing in numbers, is having a direct negative impact on those Gen X and Y that are left behind in the corporate world to figure out how to lead people and businesses to the next level. There is a Leadership Gap.

This gap is not just looking downwards to the followers of the current boomers in business but also upwards to those leading the boomers.

In a high percentage of cases Baby Boomers are now being led by a younger generation who have been accelerated through the ranks by qualifications in technology and higher level studies not available to the boomers in their day.

The Problem

Those Gen X & Y leaders who are managing the boomers can find it challenging to motivate and coach their followers due to the way that both parties have arrived at their current position.  Also, the leadership skills, taught at an early stage in the boomer’s careers were not cemented into the DNA of the young leaders as they grew rapidly through the ranks. This can cause a disconnect.

For those Baby Boomers leaders who are managing Gen X & Y, the challenge is how to truly be a situational leader and understand that these generations, particularly Generation Y are motivated by a different set of values and expectations. The skill here is to be able to adapt their leadership style to meet the follower where they are so as to have a better chance of influence success.

The Need to Step Up

In both cases the onus is on the Baby Boomer leaders to step up.

They must understand and put into practice the “leader as coach” mentality and actively transfer their leadership DNA to their followers so as to prepare them for future leadership roles.

When faced with a younger leader who is managing them, the boomer must adopt a more courageous leadership stance and support the leader by challenging and growing them to greater heights and better quality results.

The challenge is, of course, this is an immediate need and once the boomers have gone, they’re gone and with them they take all that leadership DNA.

Already Left but not Ready to Retire Yet?

A number will hear the calling to offer their experience back into the workforce and share their experiences with others by setting up a consulting or coaching business but even this could be short lived for some, as they will still be exchanging their time for money.

The good news is that they will have more time on their hands to learn new skills in this digital age and some may even use those to the benefit of others.

This is an area we are currently developing at MHC with our new digital skills education platform aimed specifically at the baby boomers who have left corporate life but are not ready to retire just yet. You can find out more here. 

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