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Generation X - are they the leaders we need now?

Generation X

Are they the leaders we need now?

With so much focus placed on the impact of Millennials on the future workforce, Generation X is often overlooked. But could this generation of workers be our new leaders?

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen X professionals come to the labour market with extensive knowledge and experience in the workplace – and they are in a strong position to deliver real change. Globally, 52% are already in leadership roles and this number is set to increase. By 2022, the number of people between 50 and state pension age is expected to increase to 3.7 million. That makes for a large, skilled talent pool often overlooked for opportunities, but who are primed and ready to be a force for good in the current climate.

Who is Gen X?

Generation X is a process-driven group: they value independent working and are labelled as workaholics. Their hard-working ethic comes with a wealth of knowledge, which they expect to continue applying throughout their careers.

What makes them great for leadership roles?

Gen X professionals have a number of different skills to contribute as leaders. Whilst it’s Millennials that are recognised for their technological abilities, it’s Gen X who were the early technology adopters and gamers; they use social media more than any other generation.* This is an important attribute as companies embrace more tech-driven ways of working, prioritising social and interactive platforms as a  means of staying in touch with their customers.

Gen X professionals are more loyal too and are less likely to leave their employment for new opportunities; job security and location are two of the top things they look for in their roles. This sense of loyalty means employers benefit from the expertise gained over a longer career at the same company, as well as reduced recruitment costs.  

What’s more, Gen X professionals love to drive their growth through external learning. In a recent survey, 67% of Gen X leaders said they would like more external coaching, compared to only 47% who said they want more coaching from their managers – a clear difference of 20%. Companies who capitalise on this hunger for learning will reap the benefits of their employees thirst for knowledge and enhance their competitive position in the marketplace.

Finally, having been in employment for over 20 years, Gen X individuals have had the benefit of working with both Baby Boomers and Millennials. Commonly known as the “middle children”, Gen X professionals have the ability to bridge the generational divide, using their versatile way of working to engage and enthuse colleagues from different generations and enhance their performance. 

How can you attract Gen X leaders?

Given their unique combination of talents and motivations, Gen X leaders can deliver huge advantages to your organisation. But how should you recruit, motivate and develop them?

First, technology is key – when you give Gen X professionals the tools and support they need to exceed customers’ expectations and realise their own goals, they will repay you with exceptional loyalty.

Secondly, their passion for external training means that you should look beyond internal mentoring when developing the leaders of tomorrow. This applies equally to your Baby Boomer and Millennial team members, as external trainers can deliver an objective, detached perspective that internal trainers, steeped in your corporate culture, often cannot provide.

Finally, you need to give them the freedom to lead and progress. Gen X professionals have lived and worked through both boom and recession and are well aware that different times call for different approaches. Give them the freedom to try new tactics and actively encourage innovation if you want to realise their full potential – and if you want them to remain with you. This should be clearly emphasised at the earliest stage in the recruitment process, along with the scope for progression, if you want to attract the finest Gen X minds. These professionals consider far more than just salary when applying for roles, and being tech-savvy can research your company in depth and see whether your employees’ experiences match up to your claims. In other words, it’s vital that you both walk the walk and talk the talk.

We're here to help

Our Brook Street consultants are always on hand to provide you with a quality recruitment service, as well as advice and strategies to helyou attract the best talent to your organisation. Contact your local branch to to speak to a consultant and we’ll give you peace of mind by managing the full recruitment process, leaving you with more time to focus on your business.

*2016 Nielsen Social Media Report:

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