What Young Leaders Want from Older Allies.

March 14, 2024

What Young Leaders Want from Older Allies.

May 29, 2023

Have you ever met an impressive young leader and said, “You’re such an inspiration. You give me hope for the future!”

I have and I won’t be doing that again.

I just read a new report from CoGenerate, What Young Leaders Want — And Don’t Want — From Older Allies. It’s based on in-depth interviews with 31 young leaders (ages 18-31) committed to working across generations. 

These leaders have a lot to say -- honest, direct, and sometimes hard to hear -- about what older adults can do, and should stop doing, to make cross-generational teams work better.

The first thing we modern elders can do? Make it clear that we’re not expecting young people to mop up our messes on their own. 

One of the young leaders explains: “The phrase that always got thrown at me was, ‘You are the future, you’re going to solve all the problems in the world,’ and it really rubbed me the wrong way. Don’t put that all on my shoulders, it's an unfair burden to say one generation is responsible for solving problems that existed before we were even born. I’ve learned to say thank you, but let’s build this thing together.” 

There’s no other way “to build this thing” but together. Intergenerational collaboration in the workforce has gone mainstream, but there’s still so much more we can all learn about how to do it better.

I hope you’ll read the report (funded by AARP!), then share it with younger friends and colleagues. I promise it’ll get the conversation started.

-Chip

P.S. I sit on the board of CoGenerate, a nonprofit bridging generational divides. Register here for a March 21 research briefing with five of the young leaders who participated in the study.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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