By: Misti Burmeister
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”

-Thaddeus Golas

The generational challenge is not one that rests solely on the shoulder of organizations or seasoned professionals. It’s equally important to educate all generations on the magnificence and importance of these differences. Here are some of her tips and techniques for leading across generations, regardless of generation.

1. Educate Yourself. Generational differences are real and, if not well understood can cause clash, which slows productivity. That said, locate three professionals of a different generations and ask them to share about themselves; what’s important to them, why it’s important to them, how they got to where they are ~ gain an understanding and respect for your differences and locate your commonalities. Also, find three books on generational diversity and dive in. The three that I highly recommend are: From Boomers To Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, Generations at Work, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Young Employees Young and Old can Find Common Ground.

2. Generate a Clear Vision. If you are in a leadership position, it is your responsibility to create a clear vision for your team. While your organization may have its own mission/vision statement, it is incredibly valuable to create one for your team. The leader creates the vision, which gives the long-term goal of where you, the team and the organization are headed. Doing so will create a clear pathway to success and everyone enjoys the great feeling success brings. In order to create a vision, ask yourself the following questions: What problem(s) do you solve? What needs do you fill? What specifically do you sell? How do you make money? What is your revenue model? How is your organization different from every other organization out there? What is your organization’s unique selling proposition?

3. Generate a Clear Mission. A mission is a statement of purpose put together by a team of people, which creates clarity, focus, teamwork, personal accountability and inspiration. It gives direction as to how the vision will be achieved. Bringing key people together to strategize on your mission naturally creates synergy, teamwork and collaboration. Consider bringing your team together, articulating your vision, let them know that none of it is possible without them and request their support in generating a short, pithy, inspiring mission. You can use some of the same questions to prompt their thought process. Ask your team: Are you clear about where we’re headed and the importance of your contribution?

4. Get to know your team. Consider what you will gain by knowing what motivates your team members. It is possible that either you are in a position that plays against your strengths or you have people on your team who are in positions that are not in alignment with their natural talents. Getting to know yourself and/or your team will aid you greatly in getting the most out of each person, yourself included. Each generation is motivated and inspired differently ~ understanding these differences and learning how to best harness your talent will only add to your credibility as a leader. Ask yourself: am I playing to my strengths? And, am I leaders others to play to their strengths?

5. Acknowledge your team consistently. Identify ways to publicly and privately acknowledge your teammates for their hard work. Give them the credit they desire and deserve. I distinctly remember a Senior Vice President at a Fortune 5 company say these specific words: “I know I have an excellent Sales Manager when I compliment her/him on their work and they quickly ensure I know it’s their team doing all the heavy lifting.”

Remember…if you don’t know yourself and your team, you’ll never get the most out of them. “Be the change” ~ take time to learn about YOURSELF and YOUR team. Capitalize on playing to your strengths.