Assumptions can be made about how a particular member of a given generation is going to communicate, but is the way a leader communicates dependent on his generation? There are styles and techniques that are going to lend themselves to more effective communication as a leader. A leader needs to be prepared to play a role in order to engender the confidence of his subordinates to readily follow his vision. The leader will need to assure his followers that he or she is intelligent and knowledgable about the core of the organization's business (De Vries, 2006). Today's workplace is composed of three primary generations; the Baby Boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964, Generation X who were born between 1965 and 1980, and the Millennial generation, or Generation Y, born from 1980 to 2000 (Hammill, 2005). Each of these age groups has a completely different set of goals and particular methods of communicating. And with the largest segment of the working population, the Baby Boomers, beginning to retire, more Generation X and Generation Y members are being promoted earlier into leadership positions, leading to a change in the traditional organizational structure where age has always been at the top (Winzenburg, 2007). So, with these promotions, the nuances of their individual generation's communication style are coming into play, but in order to reach the pan-generational audience they can not dominate the leader's message.
Styles of communication are going to change with time as new influences replace older structures of communication. If this were not the case, we would still be speaking in Chaucer's Old English and drafting manuscripts on parchment instead of Modern English transmitted in bits of data over the air. As technology advances, both the methods and pace of communication change. Our Grandparents mailed letters and dictated official memos on corporate letterhead to each other, then waited for the response. Our parents turned to phone calls and faxes to accomplish their communication needs. Now users incorporate teleconferencing with instant messaging and email to get their ideas out. With the advent of Web 2.0 and social media being heavily adopted by the youngest generation entering the workforce, entirely new avenues of communication and audience are coming to the forefront (Reynolds, 2008). Taking this a step further, it is possible to envision the English language continuing to change as simplified and phonetic spellings of words and phrases become normalized and accepted through mobile media. A good leader will be able to effectively take advantage of these changes to enhance their communication within the organization while being cognizant of the sensibilities of each generation.
Within each of the three primary generational divisions, there are distinct communication preferences that affect how the follower will receive the message. Older employees have a tendency to prefer a...