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HANDLING GENERATIONAL GAP 101

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[HANDLING GENERATIONAL GAP 101]
[JOYOUS LEADERSHIP SYNERGY]
Instructor Information
Instructor [Oladeji Oriyomi Rev.] Email [oriyomi_oladeji2003@gmail.com]
Office Location & Hours [2a, Ikinyinwa street, Iludun, Osogbo, Osun State, 8am-4pm, Mon-Fri]
Mobile Number [+234816002094]

Introduction
Organizational target audience usually comprise and impacts three generations: children, youth and adults. Adults are the working class group in society, they constitute the major leadership with the servant-leadership role of creating a relationship with the youth and children. The youth could be members of the organization who are of a lower age, educational or career background. The children could be members of society who are of the age to be in primary schools. Leaders in various committees formulate policies and lead in strategic implementations of the organizational outreaches and missions. There is the need to create relationship between all the formations down to the children’s level in order to reproduce leaders for the subsequent generations. Without vision and commitment to reproduce servant-leaders, there would be leadership gap in between the generations in any organization.

The problem Greenleaf tries to solve in his book Servant Leadership is the whole issue of ‘leadership gap’ in our institutions and societies. Leadership gap means that at the exit of a generation of leaders there were no replacements or rather there were no handing over. One of the reasons contributing to leadership gap is lack of mentoring relationship with prospective successors. There may be the formal training but not that informal borne out of life impartation.

The historical and social factors that could bring about “leadership gap might be the organizational. In the social structures, the writer look forward to seeing children, youth, involved together with adults in management of institutions such as family, schools, and Christian ministries.
Ford says, “Large and complex organizations can inhibit the development of leaders. Impersonal societies can create a sense of powerlessness. Overspecialized training can drain off the potential leaders.” (Ford 1991, 24) Likewise, large organizations have the tendency to hinder the development of leaders as many members may be overlooked, under nurtured, and ill prepared.
Statement of Problem
There is an ongoing need for new Leaders to build organizations that reach more young people in every generation. Leaders as servant-leaders will help to pioneer new organizations or continue with established ones.
Fundamental Questions
1. Why would the young prospective leaders in institutions – churches, para-churches, businesses and even countries not follow in the footsteps of the older generation?
2. What leadership styles widen or bridge the leadership generation gap?
3. What leadership qualities are necessary to facilitate leadership transition between generations?
4. How can there be successful leadership transition between generations in your organization, business or ministry?
5. How can the staff and volunteers be motivated to facilitate servant-leadership movement as their service to the company and the world in need?
6. What are the resources available to facilitate servant-leadership movement through your organization?
BOZEMAN – – The term “generation gap” was coined by sociologists and anthropologists in the 1960’s and is often still used today. One concept of the generation gap is that parents and offspring have different values and beliefs. As a result, many parents fear that they will lose influence with children when peer opinions become highly valued.

Course Content
Module 1: Unravel the Gap
Is there is a generation gap in society today?
One survey compared four generations, aged 18-30, 31-48, 49-62, and 63 plus. Several questions were asked to tap into underlying beliefs and values, such as, “Hard work is the key to getting ahead,” and “America is the very best place in the world to live.” There was remarkable consistency in the answers across generations. Many surveys of youth also refute the notion of a generation gap. These studies show that while youth tend to value their peers’ evaluations over parents’ on things like music, clothing and what’s “cool,” they continue to look to parents for basic values and guidance in the more important areas of life, such as life and career goals. The generation gap exists because we refuse to become vulnerable enough to build a bridge or two, admit an error or two, accept another who differs with us on a thing or two, and look for a few more alternatives. It is very difficult to bite while talking. It is even more difficult to have a temper tantrum while thinking clearly, and vice versa.
–B. E. Junkins in The Mission Bay Christian, December 1, 1971.
The ‘generation gap’ has existed for all of our lifetimes, but it is not an inescapable fact of human life. It is common to claim that the generation gap has always been with us, from cavemen on down. There may certainly have been some form of friction between young and old before the twentieth century, but it was as much the friction between wise and foolish or weak and strong as anything else, and even this was acknowledged as the natural order of things. Our generation gap is far more than the wildness of youth. Our generation gap is a generational war, a war between cultures, in the same way that Muslims and Christians war. It is the friction between people who do not understand each other, the same friction and frustration felt by businessmen and tourists traveling to completely different cultures.
Of course, general trends such as these can’t always be applied to individual cases. In our case, we may genuinely feel there is an uncomfortable “gap” between us and our teens. If so, what can we do to bridge it? Here are some good tips from an article titled “Bridging the Generation Gap,” by Barbara Mendenhall, a marriage, family and child counselor and executive director of Family Education Centers.
Activity
Date Personal Review (write a significant issue that comes to mind after this Module)

Module2: Bridging the Gap
Show Respect: An attitude of respect and faith is contagious. Young people tend to see themselves the way their parents see them, so when you show that you respect their ability to make decisions, learn from outcomes and survive mistakes and adversity, this strengthens them.
Listen More Than you talk: Questions we ask may sound like interrogation to teens. Instead, adopt an attitude of curiosity rather than trying to control or manipulate your teen. Ask questions like, “How so? What do you think now? Were you surprised? Now what will you do? What’s your plan? Is this something you want help with?” If your object is only to listen, you won’t be preparing your response while your teen is still talking. You’ll hear better that way, and your teen will be encouraged to talk more.
Ask: whether he or she wants to hear it before sharing your point of view. Only proceed if your teen says “yes.” Then be brief. Don’t lecture, and don’t expect your teen to agree with you. If you state your case with a “This is what makes sense to me” attitude as opposed to “This is the only right way to see things,” he or she can listen more openly instead of planning rebellion.
Think “we” instead of “you.” “We have chores to do before we leave the house; how can we take care of what needs to be done?” or “Since spills seem to happen, let’s not eat or drink in the living room.” (As opposed to, “Since you spilled, you can’t eat in there.”) Any way you get across the message, “We’re in this together,” bridges gaps that conflicts can otherwise create.
Don’t “catastrophize” or you’ll lose credibility, for example Instead of “You’re ruining your life!” say “I’m concerned about what might happen if . . .what do you think you might do in a case like that?”
Avoid Hypocrisy: Remember that hypocrisy and double standards are some of the biggest ‘put off’ for teenagers. Don’t expect them to follow rules you don’t follow yourself. Whether it’s about checking in by the phone, putting things away or drinking out of the milk carton, “Do as I say and not as I do” will not improve the relationship.
Admit your own mistakes and talk about what you are learning from them. Showing self-acceptance and tolerance of imperfection in this way is very encouraging to teens (as well as other people around you) and tends to make you easier to approach with questions, regrets and challenges. Apologize when you wish you had done or said something differently, like losing your cool or saying something mean during an argument.
Enjoy them. The humor, energy and sense of possibility teenagers often have can awaken parents to positive sides of themselves they had forgotten or neglected. When teens experience themselves as likeable, they usually act more likeable.

How do we translate these generational differences into something positive, instead of divisive? “We found out in our research that many people feel that their generation is not just undervalued, but disliked by other generations at work,” said Lancaster. “That can also apply in a family setting, where both children and adults feel misunderstood.” Here are a few of Stillman and Lancaster’s tips for crossing the generational divide:

Give people the benefit of the doubt: Don’t assume everyone is playing by your rules with your definitions. Too often, somebody might feel that a rule was “broken” by a colleague, when in reality, that person didn’t even know the rule existed in the first place.
Flexibility is in: employees of different generations thrive in cultures where they can be who they are and express themselves, where they are encouraged to learn from, not become one another. ‘In my day’ doesn’t mean it’s ‘the only way.’ Instead of being stuck in one mindset, we need to let “in my day” be a way to connect with one another. We need to listen, to consider other possibilities, to not assume that our way is always best— something that all generations can be guilty of.
Accept Differences: “Exposing ourselves to generational diversity can offer wonderful insight into how the world once was, how it is today and where we all might be in the future,” said Stillman. “The next time you bump into somebody [of] another generation, stop and remember that no one is right or wrong—we’re just different.” And those are the kind of differences we have to learn to live with.
Activity
Date Personal Review (write a significant issue that comes to mind after this Module)

Module3: Reproducing Leaders
John Maxwell in his book Developing the Leaders around You remarks that most people believe that each new generation of leaders is born rather than developed. As result, many leaders are willing simply to produce followers, expecting new leaders to show up on the scene when their times comes. However, the success of any leader is to reproduce other leaders.
The apex of Maslow hierarchy of human motivation is ‘self-actualization’. In Africa context, a man’s self-actualization is in procreation, that is reproduction of one’s own kind. This is so serious that Africans believe that someone who failed to procreate is worst of existing or being born at all. This is worthwhile challenging worldview for leaders to see ‘other leaders reproduction’ as their added core value.

Greenleaf gives a performance criterion of institutions as follow:

Every large institution that is to be optimal in its performance should produce leadership out of its own ranks. If it is to be exceptional, it should produce more than it needs and thus export leadership to other institutions. It should import some leaders and other trained persons in order to check inbred ness and to keep the organization stimulated, not because it did not produce enough of its own. Growing people, releasing people for important work elsewhere, and bringing able people from other experiences should be constant concern for any institution that wants to function at its optimum (Greenleaf 1977, 114).

Maxwell recommends the following steps to growing and reproducing other leaders. First, he says, “People who do not already possess leadership skills must have an environment that is positive and conducive to their growth.” An interview through e-mail of one the leaders in Scripture Union, the Africa Regional Secretary who explains how he was mentored illustrate how to do this. In answer to the question: “Are there such persons who have influenced you in spiritual leadership other than Jesus? If yes, how did they influence you? What gave them that entrée?” He said,

Yes. Of particular mention is late Tony Wilmot. I came to know the Lord through him. He mentored me, first by inviting me to the weekly Bible Study in his house. Later he took me into his house and when his wife was away in UK to take care of the children, I was sleeping in his bed. I saw him wake up very early in the morning to have a long time of studying the word of God and praying. I took after him immediately in my daily devotion. I also learnt from him the importance of expository preaching. He studies and preaches from every part of the Bible, even the genealogies (Daramola 2002).

Secondly, by expressing a high belief in prospective leaders, one is encouraging them to persevere, to learn from mistakes and failures, to have initiatives and be creative. This is a feature in the mentor of the writer that has contributed much to his leadership development.

Thirdly, Maxwell sees empowerment as another step towards reproducing other leaders. He recommends empowerment in stages in terms of delegating authority – first in small things and then in larger ones. Prospective leaders should also be affirmed publicly, this will reinforce their authority and competency.

Fourthly, one should plan to put prospective leader in situations that will stretch them. There could be such big projects, as William Carey would say “attempting great things for God” that would lead prospective leaders to seek “higher ground” with God and other leaders. This step helps leaders to discover their weaknesses and how to improve in performances.

The last step we would consider is modeling the life of Leaders in close communal living together with prospective leaders. In other word, adults’ leaders in Organizations ought to be available to the youth and children to be able to influence them for leadership role. Mentoring is one of the most influential ways to help us grow into intimacy with others, accept our identity and discover our unique voices for responsibility.
Activity
Date Personal Review (write a significant issue that comes to mind after this Module)

CONCLUSION
Young leaders need to learn from the old and to submit to them so that goals would be achieved better. The old need the strength, enthusiasm and creative ideas of the young ones. The young need the wisdom, mature counsel, training and restraints of the old so that wrong decisions with painful consequences are not made. For this to happen there must be a humble and right attitude on the part of both groups toward the other (O’Donovan 2000, 213).

Great leaders “reproduce” leaders all around them. Moses trained Joshua. Eli trained Samuel. Elijah trained Elisha. Paul trained Timothy and Silas and reproduce other missionaries in the New Testament. Jesus trained the apostles. Jesus in commissioning the apostles and all his disciples knew that delegation of significant responsibility and involvement was a key to effective equipping of leaders. Jesus leadership model teaches us that mentoring involves association, modeling and involvement (Renner 2002, 1f).
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