I recall reading a book in college written by the columnist David Broder titled, “Changing of the Guard: Power and Leadership in America.” The book, written in 1980, examined the shift in leadership that was beginning to take place from the Greatest (born between 1901-24) and Silent (1925-42) Generations, to the Baby Boom Generation (1943-1962) as they moved onto the world stage.
As the Baby Boom Generation begins its exit from the leadership stage, what will the next generations of leadership bring us? What cultural, political, and economic events have shaped their generations and what effect will this have at the International, National, State, and Local levels? If an update to the book were to be written today its title might be: “Changing of the Guard, Leadership in America: The Next Generations.”
Over the last several years, I’ve started to see this “changing of the guard” take place in Story City as many of our long time employees retire and a number of our community leaders step down and move on.
Each generation is influenced by boom and bust cycles in our economic system. From the roaring 20’s to the Great Depression of the 1930’s; from the economic prosperity of the 1950’s and 1960’s to the economic stagnation of the 1970’s; from the “Greed is Good” of the 1980’s and the technological growth of the 1990’s up to the Great Recession of 2008.
However, it’s the cultural and political influences that shape the outlook and opinions of each generations leadership. The Baby Boomer’s were shaped by the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War and Watergate. But, what of the next succeeding generations and what does it bring to our community?
Generation X (1962-1981) is in many ways similar to the Silent Generation in that they are sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Millennials. I often referred to them as the “Jan Brady” generation. That child caught in the middle where attention is often focused on the oldest (Baby Boom) and youngest (Millennial) children. Generation X came of age during the 1980’s with a rising divorce rate where many were raised in single parent homes and with a lack of security. This has led them to be more interested in financial issues, more independent, practical, and used to getting things done on their own.
The often talked about and heard from Millennials (1982-2000) are well informed and media savvy. There has been a great deal of focus on them with an educational emphasis on team-oriented collaboration. They will be the best educated generation, but have been highly pressured to excel and are more interested in social and environmental issues then previous generations. Millennials may reflect more of their grandparents generation (Baby Boomers) with their confidence, drive for success and purpose, and a tendency to be disruptive. Also like the Baby Boomers, they have a certain feeling of being misunderstood and a sense of entitlement.
And what about what I might term the “i” generation? Those born between 2001 and 2020. Who is to say, but history has shown that the pendulum tends to swing in the opposite direction from the previous generation. Will they continue to embrace technology at a higher level or no longer be tethered to it?
Each generation brings with it different ways of communicating, how it works and interacts together, its use of technology, and how it socializes within a community.
A “Changing of the Guard” is underway at City Hall and within our community and the cultural, political, and economic changes have been and will profoundly influence Story City in 2018 and the years ahead.