Generations and leadership
By: Jo Hennessy, Roffey Park & Goh Han Tech, Civil Service College, Singapore
The multi‐generational workplace is a reality of today. In recognising workforce diversity, social scientists have not only emphasised cultural diversity but also generational differences. The current workforce comprises several generations and at least four cohorts have been identified, each possessing different characteristics from the next (Zemke, Raines and Filipczak, 2000).
In the past decade, the idea of generational differences in the workplace has received much attention from the popular press ‐ newspapers, consultant press releases, magazine articles, as well as peer review articles. Many purport that these generational differences are important for managers in the workplace to pay attention to. Some of these base their assertions on reasonably sound research, whilst others are overly dependent on anecdotal evidence from which they create generalised stereotypes at best.
This paper aims to describe generation cohort theory, and provide an overview of existing research into generational differences that potentially has significant bearing on leadership and leadership development. Prompted by the paucity of robust research, the Civil Service College has embarked on its own research into generations and leader. We conducted an exploratory focus group study with the Singapore Civil Service (see Appendix 1 for an overview of the methodology) and are able to share findings from this initial phase of the research