Are you embracing cross-generational leadership?


Teams are naturally diverse, made up of all kinds of people of different ages, backgrounds, life experiences. In high performing teams, all of these people come together, using their differences and similarities, to achieve a common goal. For leaders, the challenge is bringing teams together as one while still recognising, respecting and utilising the different perspectives, values and approaches of each individual. 

The last few years have seen a huge shift in the way that we work and it’s caused many people to think differently about what’s important to them in their workplace. I’m seeing some similar themes cropping up in my conversations with leaders across all different sizes and types of organisations. 

The new generation of employees want: 

  • Hybrid environments – an all-remote workplace isn’t at the top of the list. A hybrid workplace where employees can have flexibility and variety in the way that they work is a high priority for many organisations. It allows for a better work/life balance and higher productivity as employees pursue the path that is more comfortable for them.
  • Values alignment – employees want to know that the organisation they work for operates in line with their own values, instead of compromising them.
  • Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility – transparency on what organisations are doing to improve financial sustainability, conserve the environment, increase diversity and inclusion and many other social concerns.
  • A strong sense of purpose – rather than being motivated by money, many of the new generation of workers are looking to feel connected to an organisation’s purpose and get satisfaction from knowing they’re working towards a goal that is worthwhile and making a genuine difference in the world.
  • To build trusting relationships – a safe environment, free of toxicity and tricky social politics is desired by many. Workers are looking to be supported and to enjoy coming to work and be around their fellow team members. 

It’s easy to see how values are shifting in this new generation of workers. In years gone by, many employees have been motivated by money, company perks, offices with views or how quickly they can gain power in the social environment. It’s not that these motivators have disappeared – you’ll find plenty of younger people who want these things too – but they’re no longer at the top of the list. 

How do leaders find the balance? 

What’s important now, however, is that leaders recognise this shift in values and motivation. A team – while one fantastic group of people – is not homogenous and leaders must acknowledge this rather than ignoring it. 

I have managed teams filled with a variety of people of different ages many times. To manage effectively, leaders must adjust their leadership style to address the needs of the generations within your team and support them well. 

  1. Bring your team together and communicate clearly. Remember, you are one team working together and your differences – whether in age or something else – make you stronger and more effective.
  2. Keep 1:1 time a priority. Time spent directly speaking to each of your team members is valuable time where you can deeply understand what motivates them, how the organisation is meeting their expectations and how you can tailor your leadership to suit their expectations. Find out more about making the most out of your 1:1 meetings

The pandemic has taught organisations all over the world that there is a different way to work. Working from home is a great example – many older, more conservative leaders may have doubted that entire teams could work from home and stay productive. The forced remote working arrangements have shown that it is possible without diminished productivity and, in many cases, teams are even more productive than ever. 

If you’re managing a team with a wide variety of generations remember that it is possible to get everyone on the same page and tailor your leadership to support everyone effectively. 

Want to support your team effectively? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.