Baby Boomer Leadership, Can You Survive It?

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Baby Boomer Leadership, Can You Survive It?

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Have you asked yourself how you will survive baby boomer leadership or a baby boomer culture? Regardless of which of the five workforce generations you represent, have you found yourself struggling with the mindset associated with baby boomer leadership?

Baby boomer leadership appreciative strategies

It might be important to define baby boomer leadership. What is it?

I believe it represents a style of leadership, the atmosphere of a workplace culture, and the values associated with respect that is different from emerging leadership trends.

Baby Boomer Leadership

Baby boomer leadership might be characterized in this way:

  • Leaning towards authoritarian. Perhaps not entirely, but by comparison to what many workplace professionals desire today it is much more, “do it, or die.”
  • Experience matters more than knowledge. Years of experience appear to be most important. More recent workforce generations often bring much new age knowledge, but yet are often discounted since they lack experience.
  • Respect is based on authority level. Respect is given, but mostly to those who represent a position of rank (supervisor, manager, etc.). The front line and lower ranking employees are often exempt from opinions or thought contributions.

Does any of this describe the culture at your workplace? If yes, I know why you are still reading this. The question now becomes, what can you do about it?

Surviving a Culture

Workplace or organizational culture is very unique, perhaps as unique as a fingerprint. Culture defines all that the organization is, and all that it does. Mission and vision statements are also closely connected with culture, or at least they should be.

Here are a few strategies for surviving a leadership culture that might ebb with your flow:

  1. Stay true. Remain true to who you are, being likeable is important but so is respect. Taking a position against the leadership team might end badly. Find some balance but maintain your own self-respect.
  2. Think before speaking. Impulse control might be important for you and make sure you practice it even in the most difficult situations. Learn to feel it coming and avoid doing any actions or behaviors out of impulse.
  3. Don’t expect change. Most likely nothing you do will change the culture unless the opportunity develops for your honest input. You might not change others but you can manage your reactions to the environment you are working in.
  4. Stay respectful. If your workplace culture exists around an authoritarian approach be sure to signal respect to others and especially those of higher ranks. Respect is what they expect and the better you deliver they more enjoyable your work might become.
  5. Flow. Although your temptations might be to resist or rebel, sometimes going with the flow is what will help you survive. Your current position might not be the greatest but the alternative might be much worse.

Evolving Leadership Trends

Leadership trends continue to evolve and the characteristics for best practices of modern leadership are pivoting.

There is chatter about new age thinking, such as servant leadership and other models. In many cases these are older theories or styles that are remerging with a new spin. Perhaps different from what the baby boomers grew up with and what they still role model today.

That doesn’t imply who is right or wrong, or what is good or bad. It implies that generational differences are putting pressure on current thinking and trends which might result in the desire for a different leadership approach.

Are you concerned about surviving a baby boomer leadership culture?

Sometimes going with the flow is the best advice of all.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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