Looking Ahead Without Leaving Behind: Connecting On Shared Values Establishes Multi-generational Leadership

December 13, 2019 | 2020 here we come McKenzie Kielman, Marketing & Engagement Coordinator, ABI Foundation, mkielman@iowaabi.org

The holiday season has a magical way of bringing people together. We find ourselves putting differences and everyday stresses aside to spend quality time with those important to us. Sparkling conversation ensues when grandparents share stories of their days spent in one-room school houses with their elementary-aged grandchildren who can now proficiently code a robot to move across the floor. The season is made that much more special by generations coming together to preserve traditions while making new memories.

This is not unlike many office environments today. We now have five generations—Traditionalist (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964), Gen X (1965 to early 1980s), Millennials (early 1980s to mid-1990s) and Gen Z (mid-1990s to early 2000s)—in the workplace together for the first time.

Despite generational divides often being brought up, personally and professionally, in exasperation, the culture gap is not quite as widespread as we might believe. Feedback from participants in both ABI Foundation high school and college programs show the appreciation they have for the generations before them:

“Business Horizons has shown me how Iowans care and support each other through business.”
– Ethan Geifman, Bettendorf High School | BH ‘19

“It’s really motivating to know that people I’ve never even met are rooting for me and are invested in my future.”
– Hannah Mescher, Kuemper Catholic High School | BH ‘19

“Leadership Iowa University brought me before an incredible variety of professional business people who genuinely wanted me to excel in life.”
– Tristan Hulstein, Dordt College | LIU ‘18

Short answer response in post-program survey | For more results, contact mkielman@iowaabi.org.

We continue to be as we always have been, a ‘people first’ society. ‘Iowa Nice’ is a real, sincere and persistent concept that produces the most powerful results when it stretches across generational lines. Conversations connecting our many shared values can enhance our collaboration and develop engaged multi-generational leadership in your company and community.

The next time you feel exhausted by a seemingly “over-eager millennial” in your office, keep in mind that they are eager—to listen, watch and learn from you. What are you telling them? How are you leveraging your expertise now to ensure success for generations to come? Use the spirit of this holiday season as a reminder to take a look at the bigger picture, embrace and celebrate differences, and set yourself up for many happy New Years to come.

Considering how you can give back to the next generation and promote your workplace? Join us this year as a volunteer or mentor at the ABI Foundation high school and college programs. Learn more and nominate students in your life to attend Business Horizons (high school, July 19-23 at Central College in Pella, www.BusinessHorizonsIowa.com) and Leadership Iowa University (college, August 9-13 in Des Moines, www.LeadershipIowaUniversity.com). Nominations are currently accepted online and applications open January 1.