Are you crossing or clogging the Generational Gap?

jordantmoody —  October 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

I invite you to please take a minute to read down through this information provided by Phil Johnson’s book The Leadership Paradox. This information can help you evaluate your own effectiveness as a leader. Young or old we all have a responsibility to make sure we are crossing the generational gap and reaching to those who may think differently from us. As we all know maturity doesn’t come with age and so doesn’t understanding.

There are five generations that coexist: Seniors, Builders, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.

“Talkin bout my Generation”

1. Seniors: Born in 1926 or earlier

– old, 80’s

-This generation sacrificed and safeguarded freedom from the perils of WWII.

2. Builders: Born between 1927-1945

– WWII and the Great Depression impressed this generation negatively and positively – nothing is ever wasted
– favors longer jail time and stricter laws
– Right is right and wrong is wrong, without much patience for those who “rock the boat” and go against the flow.
– “Til death do you part” meant they might contemplate killing their spouse before they’d actually consider divorce.
– favor more structured classrooms with clearly defined rules.
– the idea of giving “partial credit” is an anathema to this group
– BLIND SPOT for this generation of leaders is a lack of flexibility and some difficulty in seeing the need to understand others, especially holding the standard and expressing understanding for the individual.
– Builders need to seek balance: holding the standard and expressing understanding for the individual.

3. Baby Boomers: Born between 1946-1964

-first generation largely influenced by television
– the new value of “getting along and playing well with others” was an important baby boomer ideal
– Vietnam was a big part of their shaping and therefore they question authority
– They also question authority.
– every answer could have a range of correct answers.
– School students began to argue perspectives.
– Truth didn’t need to exist outside of one’s own perspective.
-Instant gratification marked this generation’s consumer habits
– debt soared
– live the good life (because your parents paid for it in WWII)
– Summary of generation: Lots of plastic, lots of debt, lots of pressure, lots of soul-searching, lots of the “pursuit of happiness” (i.e. selfishness) and lots of divorce and broken families.
– BLIND SPOT: Baby Boomers can’t fathom a world without them–and are not inclined to develop others. (no wonder the next gen is a little darker and edgier)
– HELPFUL HINT: recognize your tendency to forego development and start purposely investing in the next couple of generations.

4. Generation X: Born 1965-1983

– other names include the Baby Busters, MTV Generation, Postmoderns.
– they hate just about everything.
– they grew up in a world where their parents were chasing their American dream–often at the expense of their children.
– work to live not live to work
– viewed at the most deprived, neglected group of young people in America, created by rising divorce rates and two-income “power families.”
– sharper skills of individualism and survival but struggle with deep feelings of abandonment
– they love informality , love casual dress, love to come in late and leave early
– this group of survivors is very pragmatic: asking questions like “Is this going to be on the test?”
-BLIND SPOT: they tend to come across as resentful and a bit uncommitted, especially to those who are in authority above them and those who measure work ethic a bit differently.
– HELPFUL HINT: you need to look beyond surviving and should set personal goals that transcend endurance and that take on greater meaning and purpose.

5. Millennials: Born between 1984-2003

– expected to be the longest living, best educated, wealthiest, and most wired/wireless generation ever
– their parents are determined not to repeat the mistakes of their parents(the Baby Boomers) and instead flood their children’s lives with attention and optimism
– parents are now: super-moms and dads and “soccer moms and dads”
– everyone became over-scheduled and over-busy. (soccer practice, music lessons, acting, modeling, and sky diving– nothing is too much.
– freed from bitterness even though 1/3 live in broken homes
– less promiscuous than previous generations and have chosen to follow a stricter moral code (although this statistic could be skewed due to the change in the definition of morality created by their parents.)
-more interest in honesty and integrity
– morality decline and intellectual decline
– intellectual free fall
– 57% of Millennial-aged students scored “below basic” for their grade level
– 41% of teenagers surveyed could correctly identify the three branches of government but 59% could identify the Three Stooges by name
– digital age is rewiring their brains to encourage short-term recall at best and ignore remembering anything long term
– reject absolute truth
– feel as if all ideas are equal and are highly tolerant
– BLIND SPOT: we young Millennials can feel strangely accepted by the world and by God without actually understanding what it takes to be accepted or successful by the standards of either.

A note to leaders: if you are going to be effective you must transcend your own generation.


– Information from Phil Johnson’s The Leadership Paradox




I'm a Pastor/Teaching Elder at Hope Fellowship Church in New Ipswich, NH.

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