Such Polarization
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

It feels like we live in such a polarized world. In many cases, I believe this is caused by generational differences. Generations who have different world views and stances on life. The Generation Gap was first identified in the 1960s and is even wider today. According to Dr. Timothy Elmore, the gap expanded as we each obtained our own screens to look at. Each family member began to digest content more specific to their age from their own device, rather than from a single screen in a family room where everyone took in the same content.

Too often we find ourselves buying into the stereotypes perpetuated throughout society or within our social circles. Stereotypes like: all Boomers are stubborn, all Gen Xers are jaded, all millennials are narcissistic, or all Gen Zs are snowflakes. As you read those, you probably had some kind of reaction. Perhaps you agreed with some and felt stung a bit by others? Maybe you even agreed with the stereotype that applies to your generation. As leaders, we need to find a way to move beyond tolerating and managing this diversity to valuing it.

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” – David Augsburger

Presently, we have four and possibly five generations working together in our workplaces. Different generations with different experiences and, in many cases, different world views. In his book, A New Kind of Diversity, Dr. Elmore walks down the generational path from discovering, managing, and then bridging the gap to establishing meaningful connections. Connections that make our team members feel valued and allow our organization to flourish. To this end, Dr. Elmore gave us the acronym LEG: We first need to Listen, which makes others feel heard. Then we Empathize, which makes others feel understood, and then we have earned the right to Guide them.

I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Elmore for the latest episode of the Navigating Leadership podcast. During our conversation, he shared that his Growing Leaders organization is both inclusive and also exclusive. While everyone is welcome, not everyone will fit in. Those who join the organization need to embrace the core values the organization embraces. It won’t be for everyone and for those who find that they don’t share the values, the organization will help find a place where they can fit better. According to Dr. Elmore, leaders today need to be flexible without giving in. Don’t compromise core values but be flexible on everything else.

On June 14th, I will be teaching a workshop based on A New Kind of Diversity. To learn more about the workshop, click here. I hope to see you in class and why not listen to my conversation with the author?

Download The Navigating Leadership Podcast Here: Apple PodcastsPodBean