Analog vs Digital Leadership


Think of it … there is a lot of writing about the gaps in the workforce especially between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers.  The Millennials are in vogue right now.  The ones to hire … on the cutting edge … a fresh young force ready and keen to change things.  Their fresh perspective on the world and how to tackle its problems is very passionate and most likely to challenge the status quo is akin to new leadership approach  …  call it ‘digital leadership’.

Now the old guys and gals on the block , the Baby Boomers, … well they know how things are … experienced and smooth … like the smooth waves of Analog waves.  They know the politics and know where their place is and will protect it … therefore, very status quo … call it ‘analog leadership’.

Now for some reason nostalgia must burn in the brains of Baby Boomers because they are always enamored by the drive and passion of Millennials.  Millennials are the children of the Baby Boomers and have been taught to question authority like they did back when they were youth.  Did the Baby Boomers forget their youth when they challenged authority and the status quo?   Maybe they want some of that Millennial drive and passion to rub off on them … like it is some sort of tonic to cure them of their current rigid standards.  Baby Boomers, being the parents of Millennials, try hard to be advocates of the Millennials but many have long given up their own fires of passion.   They frantically protect their reigns of power and most follow the status quo with tenacious zeal.   Status quo,  to the younger generations and especially to the Millennials, is inherently challenged on a daily basis.  Baby Boomers hold on strategic leadership positions while applying old-style leadership structures on the younger generations.  The Millennials BALK under the old antiquated leadership styles of the early 20th century … analog. They like a more agile style of modern more modest fresh leadership styles of the 21st century… digital.

Old leadership styles does not work well in today’s work force.  It causes friction and from what I’ve experienced, a higher risk of a dysfunctional work environment.  Toxic leadership styles tend to flourish on leadership styles of old.  Now how do we get the old analog and the new digital to work together?  Well there is a group rarely referred to nowadays adept in both styles.  They grew up on analog and were the first to master digital.  Literally they played and mastered records and were there to master CDs and digital when it surfaced in the 80’s.  They are Generation X.  Now the unique thing about Generation X is that they are old enough to understand, thanks to their own angst in the 90’s, the working style of the Baby Boomers.  Any successful Gen Xer fought hard to establish themselves under Baby Boomer analog leadership.  Since they literally were in charge of digital leadership from its birth, they are more ready to embrace new ways of thinking and are much more empathetic to the struggles of Millennials to understand analog forms of leadership.

But here is the ruse … the Gen Xers are the forgotten generation.  Just when the Gen Xers were about to come on the scene to make there mark, the Millennials have somehow stole their thunder.  Why?  The Baby Boomers refuse to let go of power so long that a generation of viable, talented and savvy generation has been skipped in the mindset of popular culture.  Rarely do you hear comparisons between Gen X and the Baby Boomers or Gen X and the Millennials.  Somewhat forgotten in media.  Now I read about “How are we going to bridge the gap between the Millennials and Baby Boomers” too much nowadays.  And here I sit as an unemployed Gen Xer and shake my head at how they have overlooked a solution that will help every organization in the western world … hire more Gen Xers!


  • They extensive experience with the old ANALOG form of leadership
  • They were the first to use the newer DIGITAL form of leadership
  • They are the communication bridge between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials
  • They are more receptive to new ideas vs the Baby Boomers
  • They are more loyal to a business vs the Millennials
  • Most are naturally hard working and have grit because many more years of experience under the Baby Boomer leadership
  • They are known to make the best managers vs other generations
  • Unlike the Baby Boomers … they have 15 to 20 years of work left.  This makes them the NATURAL  filter to transition from how the BABY BOOMERS used to do things (ANALOG) to how the Millennials know will work best in today’s work place (DIGITAL)

If our society continues to cut out the natural filter, Generation X, don’t be surprise that frustration rises, tempers flare, complaints of GAPS of understanding perpetuates between Millennials and Baby Boomers.  Analog leadership needs to be phased out with the retirement of Baby Boomers from leadership positions.   Digital leadership needs to be the new normal in leadership as more Millennials become leaders.   Who are the best to transition from the old to the new modern leadership styles?  The grand masters of Analog and Digital is Generation X.  They are the bridges of understanding that so many businesses are desperately seeking to cope with Millennials newer adept style in today’s work place.

If you are truly interested in getting into the nitty gritty leadership styles of each generation, I found a very interesting research paper from Authors Goh Han Teck and Jo Hennessey of Civil Service College of Singapore: Generations and Leaders

My ANALOG vs DIGITAL is reflected in this paper.  A very interesting read.  Here are a couple of generation comparisons from their study:

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I’m the Heretic Lemming.

Lead with thought.  Think before you jump!