Baby Boomers: Communication, Leadership and the Impact of Technology
The generation to which a person belongs does have an influence in the leadership style that he prefers and the methods he employs to communicate. Even so, there are still basic skills that are necessary to communicate effectively regardless of a person’s generational membership. Finally, technological advancements have also had positive and negative impacts on communication, and different generations prefer different methods.
Defining the Generations
It is first necessary to define the various generations that make up modern society. According to Wolfe (2010), they are the “Veterans” (1922 – 1945), the “Baby Boomers” (1946 – 1964), “Generation X” (1965 – 1979), and “Generation Y”, also known as the “Millennials”, (1980 – 2000). For the sake of brevity, the term “Boomers” will be used synonymously for the term “Baby Boomers”. In addition, many articles use “Baby Boomers” as a proper noun and not as a quoted, colloquial term; therefore, it will be used as a proper noun throughout this paper.
The Baby Boomers
The author, having been born in 1961, is a member of the Baby Boomers. In the author’s experience, the members of his generation tend to favor informal communication and direct, face-to-face contact with others. When possible, the author prefers to walk over to someone’s office and speak directly instead of sending an electronic mail message. When face-to-face communication is not possible, the author prefers the telephone to an electronic method such as e-mail or text messaging, and notes that his contemporaries prefer the same. Furthermore, members of the author’s generation tend to speak their mind, but do so with diplomacy and courtesy. Maitland (as cited by Effective Leadership, 2011) points out that good manners still matter and that Boomers care about being civil and respectful. Addressing someone properly is also important when communicating formally.
Boomers have a strong work ethic and believe that everyone should be a team player (Wolfe, 2010); a sentiment with which the author agrees. The author welcomes collaboration but expects team members to do their part and honor their commitments. The author expects his leaders to understand their strengths and weaknesses, seek out those with skills that are complementary, and most importantly, learn from their mistakes. According to Chappelow (as cited by Kodatt, 2009), “It’s not the difference in the experiences that matters. When it comes to developing effective leaders, the most basic skill that can be taught is the willingness and ability to learn from whatever experiences life brings” (p. 62). In the author’s experience, his generational leaders tend to lead by example and from the front. Furthermore, Boomers will provide assistance when asked. The author’s viewpoint is that he will help someone if it is in his power to do so, and even when it is not his...