Embracing and Motivating Multiple Generations



“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
— John Adams

In our current economy, leaders and managers are tasked with learning to motivate and communicate with multiple generations and understanding different love languages.


Knowing that each is motivated differently, espousing different values, and holding differing expectations about the future stretches our people skills.


Answering the following questions for ourselves places us alongside those we hope to motivate

  • What motivates you?

  • What motivates the people you’re developing?

  • What is meaningful to your people?

  • How will you build trust to develop strong connections?

  • How do you motivate people to take action?


When it Comes to Motivation, One size does not fit all


We are designed to love and be loved; meaningful relationships enhance effectiveness in all areas of life. Understanding the uniqueness of each person and the fact that each is motivated by something different enables us to be intentionally strategic, helping them get the best out of themselves.


Stephen Obasun says, “I eventually discovered that a rare combination of creativity, inspiration, and motivation was a perfect blend that had the capacity to affect people’s lives positively.”


Our current workforce comprises people born before 1945 to many born after 1997. Add to that many ages 50 thru 70 opting to remain employed be it part or full time; this has given us five generations working together for the first time in history.


Five generations currently in the workforce:

  • Traditionalists are sometimes called “the greatest generation” born before 1945.

  • Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964

  • Gen-X born between 1965 and 1976

  • Millennials born between 1977 and 1997

  • Gen-Z’s born after 1997


How do leaders and managers bridge this multifaceted generation gap?


Be mindful that this multi-tasking, multi-ethnic, multi-generational workforce offers the most incredible range of talent, experience, and diversity we’ve ever witnessed. Think of some of the benefits and potential of such a workforce:

  • Numerous cultural influences

  • Different generational values

  • Multiple levels of education and experience

  • A variety of perspectives

  • Innovative and creative talent spanning three-quarters of a century

Be Familiar with the Generations You’re Motivating

  • Traditionalists respect authority and are comfortable with “Top Down” systems.

  • Baby Boomers will challenge authority and prefer more democratic systems.

  • Generation X is neither impressed nor enamored with authority.

  • Millennials will respect authority only so far as their competency is proven.

  • Generation Z will engage in the process following authority that collaborates with them.


Recognizing, validating, and engaging each generation requires a degree of humility before motivation is received. So, be intentionally thorough in studying the motivational needs of each being also mindful of their generational paradigms. Connecting with multiple generations is the norm in today’s world.


Forming Collaborative Connections


Dr. Brené Brown comments, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”


Deep connections with our people are formed on intellectual and emotional levels. Knowing how emotions and motivation work together gives leaders an edge.

  • Emotions influence our thinking,

  • Positive, focused thoughts become motivational

  • Motivated thinking produces behavior

  • Agreed upon behaviors reward leaders and their teams


Keys that open doors to the heart


The most affirming and validating thing we can do for others is devote much of our energy to getting to know them. Make it a priority to become familiar with your people.


  • What do they love, and what do they hate?

  • What’s their story and its influence on who they are now?

  • What are their dreams for the future?

  • What are their plans (if any) to accomplish their dreams?

  • What are you prepared to do to help them?


“The only way to secure the answers you need is to ask questions.”
— JSP


*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***

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