New Report: Don’t Ignore Gen X for Leadership Roles

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According to a new report from global leadership consulting firm DDI, it’s a big mistake to ignore Generation X, especially for leadership jobs.

The report, titled “The Hidden Potential of Generation X,” reveals that Generation X leaders possess a unique blend of strengths and skills in comparison to their baby boomer and millennial counterparts.

“There’s been a lot of media attention focused on the differences between baby boomers and millennials, but little is said about the critical bridge between them: Generation X,” said Stephanie Neal, DDI senior research consultant and author of the report. “Compared to other generations, our research shows that Gen X leaders excel in leading with both emotional intelligence and a digital focus yet are often passed over for promotions. While companies certainly need to pay attention to developing the youngest generation of leaders, they should be cautious that they aren’t ignoring the talent in their Gen X leaders.”

The report drew on data collected from more than 25,000 leaders around the world. Key findings include:

  • Gen X is just as digitally savvy as millennials: 54 percent of Gen X leaders are digitally savvy, on pace with millennials at 56 percent.
  • Leaders from Gen X have an edge in empathy: 68 percent of Gen X leaders are highly effective in empathy, compared to only 62 percent of millennials.
  • Companies skip over Gen X for promotions: Leaders from Generation X had only 1.2 promotions in the past five years, significantly less than millennials (1.6 promotions) and baby boomers (1.4 promotions).
  • Gen X leaders are frustrated but loyal: Only 58 percent of Gen X leaders said they were advancing at an acceptable rate, but only 37 percent said they were thinking of leaving their companies to advance their careers.
  • Internal development isn’t enough for Gen X leaders: While Gen X leaders don’t want to leave their companies, they are much more likely than other generations to want development from external sources.

“More than any other generation, Gen X leaders are telling us that they want to stay at their companies and are hungry to develop their leadership skills,” said Neal. “Companies should pay close attention to this hidden source of leadership potential and ensure that they’re giving Gen X a fair shot at leadership opportunities as well as the external development they’re craving.”

Read the full report here.