Leadership and Generational Gap in the Leading Job Positions

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It is widely anticipated that over the next 10 to 20 years, there will be a leadership gap in healthcare organizations. This gap can be expected due to many different reasons, some of which include, generational diversity and an aging workforce present in the organization (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). To begin, leadership is crucial, especially in times of crisis and change as it inspires hope and optimism (Grandy & Holton, 2012). Data has revealed that the workforce is aging thus leading to senior management retiring, which creates a skills and leadership gap (Rappaport et al., 2003). For example, a study found that over 70% of workers felt they had a leadership skill gap when dealing with change (Dickson, 2016). In order to deal with this crisis, leaders need to develop key leadership capabilities (Dickson, 2016). This is vital as leaders play an important role in implementing change and supporting organization to engage their followers and reach their goals (Dickson, 2016).

Moreover, different generations present within a workforce make it difficult to all work together. In other words, it is common to find workers who were born during different times, circumstances and situations who all work in the same workplace (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). For example, generation x consists of people born in the years 1965-1980 and generation y consists of people from 1980-2000. Both these generations are different in the way they think, work, and act which can create conflict. As a result of this, both these generations have different characteristics, which influences how they work. This is a challenge as finding an effective means of addressing the leadership gap in an organization under pressure and complex change while sustaining leadership competency proves to be a mission. This paper will argue that the leadership gap is a growing crisis by showing there is a generational diversity present in organizations and the aging workforce is resulting in a shortage of skill gaps while proposing three solutions for addressing this gap.

Generational Diversity:

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Generational diversity in the workplace can be one of the reasons for a gap in leadership. The differences between these generations is the main reason for this gap. Looking at the data, currently there are around 48 million individuals belonging to gen x while gen y is around 30 million (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). When analyzing these two generations, there appears to be major differences in their characteristics. Gen x individuals value autonomy and freedom with how they prefer to work and also prefer to work in an independent manner (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). Furthermore, they are less idealistic, less optimistic, and prefer safe paths to work (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). On the other hand, gen y individuals tend to follow directions, value collaboration and teamwork and are not so independent. Also, they are more self-confident and optimistic, have a more positive outlook, are risk-taker and are more comfortable with technology (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). The individuals from both these generations also hold different attitudes which can create conflict in the workplace, making it challenging for the leader (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). Also, the unique characteristics of each generation can influence the way they look at organizational change and the different ways to achieve these changes (Mhatre & Conger, 2012). Healthcare institutions have been running into conflict due to an intergenerational workforce leading to variations in core values and preferences of work (Olson, 2008). As a result, leaders require some knowledge and training in generational diversity to create synergism within the organization (Olson, 2008). Due to these differences, problems arise causing a disruption in effective and efficient collaboration between the leaders and workforce (Olson, 2008). Challenges including differences in attitudes, values and beliefs, work ethic and expectations have been difficult for leaders (Olson, 2008). Furthermore, health care team members are regularly evaluated as to how effectively they work in a team (Olson, 2008). Employees are required to communicate and adapt to team work and contribution, however, generational differences influence this process (Olson, 2008). Although sparse, research conducted in this area reveals that health care professionals demonstrate limited knowledge in generational issues (Olson, 2008). Training on this topic, specifically in healthcare settings focuses on recognizing the differences in the generations and not expecting the individuals to change their way of thinking (Olson, 2008). Strategies to get everyone involved may include asking questions to get the individuals perspective from their own generation and to further engage everyone, they may be encouraged to describe their successes and difficulties while working with other generations (Olson, 2008).

Aging Workforce

The aging workforce in organizations is another factor which can contribute to the coming leadership gap. Trends show that approximately 50% of senior level managers will retire in the next ten years (Wolff et al., 2009). Due to the exit of these senior managers, organizations will be left with a leadership crisis (Wolff et al., 2009). Workers who are aged 50 or older have become an increasingly large part of the overall workforce in developed nations (Wolff et al., 2009). Those who are at the senior management positions have had a lot of work experience and learning opportunities that contribute to the higher-level leadership capabilities compared to those of less experienced management (Wolff et al., 2009). Not only this, these capabilities which the senior managers hold play an important role in the organization’s effectiveness (Wolff et al., 2009). Due to the large numbers of senior level managers retiring, it makes it difficult to find replacements as junior leaders have less time to prepare (Wolff et al., 2009). Today’s workforce is aging, causing both age and skill gaps to be present in organizations, posing as a threat and challenge for the leaders (Rappaport et al., 2003).

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