What Essence of Leadership Should Be Shared?

By July 15, 2013Millennial

How the tracking of generations began, I am not completely sure. It isn’t an exact science but generations are based roughly on a 20 year cycle. The thought is a group of people go through life phases somewhat at the same time – childhood, young adult, mid-life, and elder. They share experiences. In sharing, our essence of leadership begins to take shape.

Generational Interest

Over time, more hype on generational types have taken root. Add in the marketing and political interest, and you get an over-inflated awareness and attempts to stereotype large groups of people. In this process, generational meaning can get lost and obscured with over-analysis.

To a certain degree, this is what is happening with Millennials. It is a large generation – 80 million strong. With Millennials moving into the workplace, interest grows in what the impact will be and what changes will occur.

My blogging focus is on Millennials but it is on how to embrace them and inspire them to become a great generation of leaders. The way to do this, I believe, is to focus less on the hyped-up characteristics and, instead, reach out between two generations to share experiences. Conversations and open minds between two generations — sharing experiences and lessons learned — will create more value than anything else.

The Essence of Leadership

The Essence of Leadership for the Generations

Whether a Millennial or another generation, there is an essence to a leader. Highlighted below are key elements of this leadership essence.

Character. It is about trust in what you do and how you do it. Honesty is at the core, as is empathy. It is a strong mix. Along with trust is purpose. Acting in purpose translates to doing things to make a positive difference in the areas you choose. Character is core.

Mindset. With character comes approach. It is more than an attitude, which needs to be positive. It is about a mindset, growing and learning in all that you do. Leaders in a static state get passed by. Proactive, growth-oriented leaders advance in their views and thought processes.

Actions. Thinking without meaningful action means little. Taking the steps forward to place purpose in motion is what truly makes a difference. It is about innovation and creativity but also innovating and creating, meaning it is a verb of action and progress. There will be setbacks, as there always are. However, it takes action to get unstuck, re-focus, re-energized, and engage anew.

Interactions. Interactions make the human connection. It is not only within a similar group but exploring diversity to gain perspective and strength in the thoughts and actions. Conversations are vital, sprinkled with civil debates, unique viewpoints, and clear insights.

Awareness. There are two angles to awareness. First, there needs to be a strong self-awareness; and, second, there needs to be a community awareness.

To act in character, interact with respect, and grow in learning, self-awareness needs to be developed and used fully. Gaining understanding in what lights your soul or holding it back will strengthen the leader within.

Equally important is an awareness of others, whether locally or globally. It is a reflection outward to your impact or the need of where you can have an impact. Awareness is a two-way street in which flow of thinking, doing, and improving empowers your community to dance in possibility and achievement.

Conversations Close the Generational Gaps

To embrace our leadership essence, it takes an individual willingness to pursue and develop these elements. It also takes sharing between two generations:

  • Gen X to Millennial and Millennial to Gen X
  • Boomer to Millennial and Millennial to Boomer
  • Silent to Millennial and Millennial to Silent

The sharing of experiences needs to begin and continue. It is not a lecture. It is a conversation, where both absorb and grow.

  • What is the essence of leadership you will share?
  • What is the essence of leadership you will learn from each generation?
  • What can we do to enhance the leadership essence for future generations?

It needs to be said loud and clear:  This is a two-way learning conversation. Boomers and Gen X have many work years ahead, and we need to learn from Millennials as well as Generation Z. Likewise, Millennials are entering the workplaces in large numbers, and they need to learn from other generations. It is a mutual learning and growing leadership culture we need to promote, and it begins in sharing experiences in conversations.

Join us on Tuesday, July 16, as we light the way in the #LeadFromWithin chat, hosted by Lolly Daskal. I will be joining her as a co-host to facilitate these conversations. Join us. Engage between generations to cross the gap and lead in a bigger way!

Join here, too. How do you engage between two generations in developing the right leadership essence?


Image through Veer, rights reserved.

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Randy Conley says:

    Excellent thoughts Jon! I am convinced that leadership is much more about WHO you are rather than WHAT you do, yet they are interdependent. WHAT you do springs forth from WHO you are – your beliefs, mindsets, and values. Those intangible qualities of leadership span all generations, regardless of the cultural/social labels we place on the generations.

    Thank you for being a leader,


    • Jon M says:

      Agree, Randy. We need to actively engage with ourselves in order to define our value, beliefs, and mindset. It definitely helps in how we engage in the other areas. Thank you for adding to the conversation! Jon

  • Hiten Vyas says:

    Hi Jon,

    Wonderful post, indeed! In particular, I liked what you wrote about the importance of mind-set as a key element in the leadership journey. I’m truly beginning to believe and experience that those whose mind-sets are focused on growth and flexibility usually develop a powerful ability to navigate in the world, also assisting them to progress in the art of leadership.

    As I was reading down your post and particularly the section on conversations, I became excited at the prospect of what amazing things can emerge and how people in each generation develop when they talk and learn from each other.

    Thank you.

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks so much, Hiten. Appreciate your feedback and insights. Conversations can simply have a powerful impact and make a big difference. It is the way to empower the next generation of leaders! Thanks! Jon

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