Effective Leadership In 21st Century, Part 1

3. 14. 2016

In the 21st Century, businesses are fast growing and dynamic. There is technology which keeps on changing every now and then, government regulations, competition, and workforce demography. 

Part 2
Part 3 

Modern Leaders need to put all this in mind to remain afloat. Leaders are supposed to anticipate what is going to happen in the near future, understand the market trends, have the expertise to take risks, be able to make a decision in the shortest time possible and encourage teamwork.

Leaders who are old fashioned, conservative, lack innovation and shun technological advancement find it hard to thrive in business nowadays.

There are different leadership styles that leaders need to apply to different age group at the place of work.  In the 60s generation autocratic leadership style mostly used, nowadays the most commonly used is democratic and free reign.

Managing employees of different age groups can be a very daunting task for managers. Leaders are supposed to know how to handle age groups. Employees in different age groups differ in their behavior and communication styles. At workplace there are various age groups that employees fall under.  There is the age group of employees that were born in the pre-colonial times 1945, baby boomers 1946 – 1964, Generation X born 1965 – 1980, Generation Y 1981 – 1995 and the linkster (facebook) generation born after 1995.


They form the baby boomers group.  These are the employees who were born after the World War. These people grew up in a different era culturally, politically and economically compared to the generation today. They were brought up in an environment when countries were trying to develop after the aftermath of the war. According to Holz, these people are sometimes disinterested, disconnected and rude but they are well educated, have excellent teamwork skills and show cooperation. These individuals are hardworking professionals who love their work. They hold a high position in organizations. They like bureaucracy and value organization culture. They communicate in a hierarchy and handle every task formally. They live in the old days and are rigid as they do not impress change immediately. They are authoritative and like work being carried out according to laid done rules.

They are always determined and have confidence in whatever they do. They have impressive skills in their professions, are loyal to their bosses and rarely switch jobs. Employees in this age group have a long service history, are dependable and reliable (Owram, 1996).

They believe in perfection, meeting deadlines and formality. They do not understand the younger generation who are disorganized and lack patience.

This generation has been a pillar of many organizations and they have been relying on them even though they are attaining retirement age and are getting replaced by the Generation X. 

However the unpleasant truth about this generation is they are near retirement age, their enthusiasm and passion may not be as high when faced with new technological advancement and rapid changes of the external and internal environment.

To deal with this age group effectively, employers need to give them the respect they deserve and allow them to act as mentors to the younger generation. Even though their way of doing things could be obsolete, never criticize them in front of the others, rather have a closed-door discussion and acknowledge their contribution before starting getting them to buy in the new ideas of doing things. Protecting their ego is the utmost sensitivity issue that must be looked at in leading them. They should be given more responsibilities, training and developmental programs to enable them to adopt change whenever it’s due. At the same time, the leader needs to be patient because they could be slow in responding to new technology and getting savvy with the PC to get things done.

In my career as a leadership trainer and coach in the Asia Pacific, I have encountered senior management team of ’60s and I always begin with a word of recognition and showing my respect to their experiences in their trade – it is my best ice breaking remedy to connect with them successfully.

Author: Chong Kwee, Ng, student at LIGS University


Deal, J., Karen, P., & Heidi, G. (2001) Emerging Leaders: An Annotated Bibliography, North Carolina, Centre for Creative Leadership.

Dorsey, J. (2010),  Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons. Inc.

Holtz .G.T. (1995). Welcome to the Jungle. The Why behind Generation X. New York, St. Martin’s Press

Owram, D. (1996).  Born at the Right Time: A History of the Baby Boom Generation, Toronto Buffalo London, University of Toronto press.

Ohlott, P. J. & Eastman, L. J. (1994) Age difference in developmental job experiences, Dallas TX,

Smith, A. (2013). The Gen X and Millennial Guide to a Thriving Career, USA, iUniverse LLC

John C Maxwell (2005) Developing the Leader Within You, USA Thomas Nelson

Watkins. C. (1999). Grads to Grannis, Managing the generational gap. Food Management 34(9) 31-25

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