Leadership hand-off: Exploring Gen X’s management

You may know them for their trademark entrepreneurial spirit and inspiring work-life balance. Generation X holds some of today’s great business minds, such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Larry Page. But largely they are overshadowed by last of the Baby Boomers or fear being surpassed by overly eager Millennials. However, there’s something to be learned from their slow and quiet march to leadership.

In 2015, Generation X slowly inclined to 21 percent of the workplace, while Baby Boomers continued to decline to 31 and Millennials grew to 45, according to Panopto.

Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm Addison Group told Fortune not to take Gen Xers for granted. According to their study of the three generations, more than half of Gen Xers described themselves as being innovative, problem solvers and team players, which isn’t surprising for one of the first generations to welcome tech giants, like Apple and Microsoft. Add that with the years of experience they have on their Millennial rivals, and it’s no surprise your next CEO could be one of these folks.

Janet Kyle Altman, marketing partner for Kaufman Rossin, told the Huffington Post generational diversity offer businesses greater opportunity. Baby boomers offer the optimism and drive Gen Xers can utilize to grow their self-reliant spirit, Altman said. Millennials fit into this picture as the skeptics who aspire to make the world a better place to live for everyone.

However, the business values these three generations regard highly aren’t too different. All three generally view fundamental business knowledge, communication skills and an innovative mind as areas of attention, according to the Chicago Tribune. An additional study by EY found Gen X managers are best equipped to manage teams more effectively than Gen Y or Baby Boomers.

I’ve always envied the DIY drive of Generation X as I begin freelance gigs. My dad, born in 1961, falls into this group, and founded his own hair salon in Seattle with my mom more than 25 years ago. With a dedication to educating new hairdressers, he’s turned his business into one of the top salons in Seattle year after year.

No matter when you were born, it’s clear each of us bring a special set of values not too different. While Millennials may need to wait their turn for new leadership roles, they have some experienced, eager leaders to learn a thing or two from.

What do you think about working with other generations?

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