The biggest generational issue is entitlement, and it is the entitlement mindset of Boomers and Gen Xers. While older generations are looking only to themselves in the programs and initiatives they pursue, they also take the time to disparage and belittle Millennials and Gen Z. Older generations have always contained an element of jealousy and pickiness of emerging ones. However, in our current times, the mindset of older generations is a curmudgeon at best.

Too many articles have been written about how Millennials or Gen Z don’t understand the real world or have broken certain traditions or products. Guess what. Times have changed, and the older generations are stuck in the good ol’ days, which is itself a myth.

The latest news exemplifies the entitlement nature of older generations. Older generations bribed college officials to gain access to educational institutions and paid other individuals to take college entrance exams. They believed they were entitled to access. It wasn’t about the kids; it was about the parents wanting to show false pride to their friends. What example did these parents and leaders believe they were setting? At best, it is entitlement gone awry. More to the point, it is showing poor ethics and believing they are above the law. Entitlement attitudes drive wrong actions.

Here are other reasons why the inappropriate entitlement nature of Boomers and Generation X matters.

  • Right now, the U.S. debt has grown to $22 trillion
  • Good leaders build to enable a better future. We are failing.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the annual interest payments on the national debt will hit about 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2029, higher than the 50-year average
  • The U.S. federal budget deficit for fiscal year 2020 is $1.103 trillion, 1 percent greater than the previous fiscal year
  • Global infrastructure, such as transportation, power, water, and telecommunications systems, requires an annual $3.3 trillion investment to keep up with growth, which is higher than the $2.5 trillion being spent
  • About 10 percent of the Russell 1000 companies pay employees below the federal poverty level

Why it matters is that we are no longer investing in the future. Older generations are not solving problems. Instead, real problems are kicked down the road while debt and deficits grow. For any problem that Boomers and Gen Xers see, the solution seems to be a tax cut or ignoring it completely. Like it or not, government plays a role, as does business. Leadership is supposed to be about leaving places better than you found them. Good leaders build to enable a better future. We are failing.

What to do to eliminate generational entitlement?

My advice to Gen Xers and Boomers is straightforward.

1 – Adopt a future mindset.

A future mindset translates to keeping existing businesses, technology, processes, and programs running while leading toward how to incorporate changes and shifts into new initiatives that create a better future. Answer a key question – how can what I am doing leave a better future from which next generations can build upon?

2 – Engage a positive problem-solving outlook.

Never solve a problem that keeps the status quo or moves business and society backward rather than forward. Solve problems with a future stance.

3 – Think and act strategically.

A strategy is about the future and how to get there. Leaders need to spend more time on developing a strategy on how to move forward with technology, data privacy, highways, bridges, transportation, water, electricity, healthcare, and other key areas. After the strategy, propose and collaborate on a reasonable action plan to realize it. Equally important, measure results and be unafraid to adapt to lessons learned.

4 – Stop picking and start empowering.

Let’s stop picking on generations and instead understand context and share experiences and perspectives between all generations. Each generation can empower another – young and old. Empowering generations is a multi-generational responsibility. Let’s lead like it.

5 – Practice patience, exhibit courage.

Each generation needs to have a learning mindset. Learning requires a certain amount of patience. Younger generations need older generation patience. Older generations need younger generation patience. Patience is a mutual responsibility in lifting each generation to a higher level of thinking and doing. Within patience, we need courage. We need the courage to design and solve for the future. We need the courage to embrace younger generations in our solutions and initiatives. We need the courage to do the right things in the right ways no matter our age.

6 – Build a legacy obituary.

In the end, money doesn’t matter. Status doesn’t matter. Position doesn’t matter. What matters is what you did to lift others up with good ethics and good works. Status, position, and wealth disappear. Sure, you might have your name on a building, but who really knows half the people with names on buildings? What future generations appreciate is what moral courage you exhibited and what strategies and plans you move forward with – with others for the betterment of others.

Are you ready to ditch your generational entitlement and create a better future for the next generation?


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
The greatest generational risk is generational entitlement, and it is not where you think. It is not on Millennials or Gen Z.