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What It Takes to Lead Across Generations

What It Takes to Lead Across Generations

Update: 2023-08-23



Generational differences may get laughs online. (Remember “OK boomer”?) But in the workplace, productivity can suffer when older and younger workers struggle to communicate and find common ground.

Mimi Nicklin, a business coach and advertising executive, argues that older managers should spend less time forcing their Millennial and Gen Z employees to conform to company culture and more time listening.

But Nicklin says listening isn’t enough. Practicing empathy across generational divides is key to improving team collaboration and creating better business and individual outcomes – and that can go both ways.

“What empathy in a leader, or from a leadership point of view, really asks of us is to understand, to ask opinions, to listen,” she tells IdeaCast host Curt Nickisch. “Empathy for me is about perspective taking -- seeing the world through the eyes of someone else, seeing their context.”

In this episode, Nicklin explains how to build common ground and tackle generational tensions on your team – with plenty of real-world examples from companies that prioritize empathy. Nicklin wrote the book Softening the Edge: Empathy: How Humanity's Oldest Leadership Trait is Changing the World.

Key episode topics include: leadership, leading teams, psychology, age and generational issues, conflict, growth, differences, millennials, organizational culture, communication, talent management, GenZ, empathy.

HBR On Leadership curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock the best in those around you. New episodes every week.

· Listen to the original HBR IdeaCast episode: How Empathy Helps Bridge Generational Differences (2021)

· Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast.

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What It Takes to Lead Across Generations

What It Takes to Lead Across Generations