Leadership Lesson From the Atlanta Braves
As a baseball lover, I was in hog heaven last week. My colleague, Holly Moore, and I got to spend a day providing leadership training for the front office staff, the coaches and the managers of the Atlanta Braves. It was so fun to shake hands with General Manager Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzales and coach Terry Pendelton, who I watched play ball for years at Turner Field.
Our leadership topic that day was “Generational Diversity: Learning to Build a Bridge Not a Wall Between Different Generations on a Team.”
Like most organizations, the Braves have at least three generations working together—Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, or Generation Y. And, like most organizations, they’ve felt a clash when those people from different generations try to collaborate. Each generation is different not only because of their diverse ages, but because each grew up with different experiences that marked them in their early years—shared crises, television shows, heroes, music, political figures, highlights and technology. I was impressed with the Braves commitment to solve this leadership dilemma and really learn to collaborate.
Foundational leadership lessons from the day were things like…
- Managers should expect people to be different.
- Their value, in fact, is in their differences.
- Each generation can be mentored by and can mentor another.
- People won’t fundamentally change. Stop trying to do that.
- A leader’s job is to identify and capitalize on their differences.
- The best leaders read their people before they lead their people.
What’s Respect Look Like?
After lively discussion, it became clear that each generation desires respect from others. On the other hand, each one looks for distinctly different responses:
Baby Boomers want to be valued for the experience they bring to the table. Others should communicate appreciation and look to them for leadership as wise mentors and guides. For them, respect is about listening and soaking up what they have to say.
Gen Xers want to lead and not be micro-managed at this point in their career. They have been in the shadows of the Boomers’ leadership their whole career; they want to shine. For them, respect is about trusting them to run point on projects.
Generation Y wants to weigh in and be taken seriously. They are the youngest team members and bring energy, creativity and ideals to the table. For them, respect is about giving them a voice at meetings and valuing them enough to invest in them.
More and more, it’s become clear that diversity is not just bout ethnicity and gender. It’s about generations, too. So—I have a question for you.
Are you experiencing conflict or collaboration between the generations where you serve?
Looking for more resources on understanding generational differences? Check out Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. Interested in having Tim Elmore speak at your next event? Click the link for details on the Generation iY event.