Effective partnerships are interactive ones, creating value in each exchange. Value is key. What is value? Value relates to worth, and it needs to be additive. Going solo gives you the thick skin to weather the storms and take on the tough leadership challenges. Working with others gives you an added perspective, an extra hand, and a coordinated effort. There is cumulative value accrued and delivered. Effective partnerships add value.

Empathy Enables Partnerships

Getting partnerships to work, especially intergenerational ones, requires empathy. Empathy opens insights. Empathy discovers another’s within. What this means is empathy uncovers true purpose and then works to join to a common one.

Psychology Today defines empathy as:

“…the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. “

Empathy is simply:

  • Understanding another’s perspective – what motivates them, the path they are walking on, and what they are feeling along the way
  • Beneficial to how we work together and in what we do – embracing a helping attitude

Generational Empathy – More Common than Expected

Generational conflict often raises its voice in social circles. Differences are as unique as individuals, no matter our generation. Differences strengthen, but they get over-stated.

In a PewResearchCenter 2010 study, “Only 26 percent say there are strong conflicts between young people and older people today. More than two-thirds (68 percent) say that conflicts are either not very strong or nonexistent.”

Jeremy Chandler is correct. We need to break down the communication barriers between generations and work together to create real, lasting, positive change. We each bring our strengths. We need to tap into them.

Here is an example of partnering in an unexpected place. In early 2013, the Jewish Theological Seminary hosted a conversation entitled “Justice, Tzedek, Sadaqah: Pursuing Social Justice in Multi-faith Communities.” What was unique about this conversation is it brought together Boomers and Millennials to share in social justice efforts. Boomers activated social causes in their twenties, and Millennials have a similar mindset now.

Here is what Joshua Stanton had to say about the gathering:

“The word ‘mobilization’ has strong associations for the Boomer Generation, when organizing hundreds to march, rally or take part in a sit-in was the visible manifestation of social justice activism. But to the Millennial Generation… which grew up immersed in new technologies, it might mean something quite different – even if the impact is every bit as significant.

Mobilizing Millennials might not mean getting 1,000 people together for a march or rally. It might not mean organizing 50 in-person meetings with elected officials. It might instead mean getting 100,000 people to click a button online and show with credibility the manifold response that would take place if a key change did not happen – and happen quickly.”

By sharing experiences and engaging in generational perspectives, both can enhance their approaches and adopt practices between two generations. This is a cross-generational partnership at its best, and successful partnerships can be formed to achieve community and business initiatives alike.

Generational Empathy Strengthens Generational Partnerships

Leaders need to connect with their customers, teams, and partners. The connections need to go deeper than just understanding someone and then just moving forward in achieving certain goals and objectives. From what we learn empathetically, we need to act upon it. Implement new perspectives. Give room for others to work through challenges. Change to adapt in positive ways.

Empathy needs to lead to a connected action, one that makes a difference with what is learned. [tweet this] And this is crucial. When this happens, intergenerational diversity and strength collide with positive results.

Leadership does come from within. Within us is a spirit of leading to embrace the uniqueness in others to solve problems, innovate solutions, and move teams from Point A to Point B. Empathetic leadership also is a spirit within that seeks to connect with another person, understanding their perspective and accepting what they have to offer. True leadership connects through empathy, actively and with patience.