George Washington Carver was a successful botanist, chemist, inventor and educator. Success like that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s not surprising Carver said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”
In the work world, we enter professional relationships with people from all generations – the GIs or Greatest Generation, the Boomers, the Gen Y and Xers, and the Millennials.
As we blend in the office and the boardroom, sometimes conflict arises. I’ve heard GI’s suggest the world is “doomed” because of new leadership. I’ve heard Boomers say, “Young people these days are so spoiled, I can’t wait for them to be in the real world and get smacked with reality!” I’ve heard more than one Millennial dismiss established leadership. I don’t know what people say about Xers because they probably wouldn’t say it in front of me!
Despite our disagreements, we’re not all that different. Each of us is both capable and flawed. How beautiful when we collaborate and find resonance in our other-aged peers. For example, in my late 20’s, I put my time in – long hours, inglorious work, marginal influence, mistakes and victories. So when I see Millennials making their way, I’m thrilled for them! I want to give them a leg up. I’m also embarking on the fourth decade of my life. I understand the slower, reflective approach of a wiser person and appreciate learning lessons in leadership from the Boomers guiding me. For that matter, to have an opportunity to sit with a GI and listen to their war stories, that is a blessing.
So much of successful management and leadership have to do with “being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.” How we do that will dictate our ability to succeed in life and business. Each of us has something to learn and something to teach. Together, we comprise a complete perspective.
In the words of the great Maya Angelou, “We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.”
Pamela Witter is a published author, fundraiser, and life-long student of leadership. Browse Pam's blog entries for possible conference session or keynote topics. Pam customizes training opportunities for her clients.
Email me at BeASeedPlanter@outlook.com.