As my 44th birthday approaches I learn two new facts. First, that I was born in the same year (1966) as the new British Prime Minister, David Cameron (I wondered why he looked so young). Second, that makes Prime Minister Cameron and I members of Generation X (President Obama also qualifies).I thought I should probably find out a bit about the generation I am a member of, partly to find out who I am, and partly to help me minister to my generation. I’m grateful to Tammy Erickson at the Harvard Business Review for helping me out. In her article on PM Cameron, she reflects on a New York Times piece about “Another X’r at the helm,” by describing the character traits of X’rs and the implications of each for leadership. Her full exposition is here, but the main points are:
1. Accelerated contact with the real world . . . inclined to meet commitments and take employability seriously.2. Distrust of institutions and self-reliance . . . strong survival skills and the ability to handle change with resilience: a well-nurtured portfolio of options and networks. 3. A sense of alienation and a preference of “alternative” . . . an inclination to innovate, to look for a different way forward; outward-facing. 4. An awareness of global issues and multiculturalism . . . a more unconscious acceptance of diversity than any preceding generation and the ability to welcome the contributions of diverse individuals. 5. Skepticism and an ability to isolate practical truths . . . rich humor and incisive perspective. 6. Childhood experiences . . . fiercely dedicated to being good parents, raising important questions about balance beyond the corporation. 7. Pragmatism . . . a practical and value-oriented sensibilities, and the ability to serve as effective stewards of both today’s organizations and tomorrow’s world.
So, although it took me 44 years, at least I now know who I am.But how do I now minister to my generation? How do I get X’rs to the cross?