Why Positive Developmental Leadership and Why Now?
An OK Boomer guide to a generational shift.
Several generational, demographic, and modal personality traits are converging to challenge leadership practices, skills, and attitudes into the 2020s. The following is a very brief overview of generational cohorts that illustrates the need to move from the traditional, hands-off, criticism corrections-based management model to a positive developmental leadership approach. The descriptions of the cohorts are based on voluminous research in demographics, sociology, and social psychology, both quantitative and qualitative, by people like Morris Massey, William Strauss, Neil Howe, and Jean Twenge and informed by the research and experience of your humble narrator in speaking with thousands of managers and leaders over the past sixteen years about these ideas. The descriptions do not purport to describe every individual but do illustrate the generational currents that have flowed through the USA since before World War II. The main thesis here is that there is a widening mismatch in attitudes and expectations among workforce leaders and doers. Baby Boomers, who tend to be friendly, focused, and social, are leaving the leadership of Generation NeXt (aka Millennials, who tend to crave praise and recognition,) to the direct and often blunt, independent, self-sufficient Generation Xers, for whom offering subordinates frequent praise and thanking them for doing a job is an anathema. A model of positive developmental leadership must be adopted by Xers for workplaces to be successful and for younger workers to thrive. Let me explain.
The following illustration graphs year (x-axis) and the number of babies born in the USA (y-axis) with demarcations for approximate starting and ending birth years for each of the described cohorts.