Leaders in business of the 21st century have distinctive styles to lead diverse employees within a workplace. In a thriving digital environment where remote or virtual leadership advances constantly, leaders need to alter their existing leadership preferences to adapt and fulfill the long term strategy of an organization. Also Generation X (born between 1964 and 1977) members are the next group to succeed the retiring Baby Boomer (1940-1963) labor force. As most Generation X (1965-1979) individuals climb the corporate ladder into leadership roles and Generation Y (1980-2000) individuals grow in the labor force; organizations may face issues in employee retention and turnover of Generation Xers (English, 2009).
Many statistics show that Generation Xers are less likely to stay loyal to an organization and have changed employers more often than any other generational group (Johnson & Lopes, 2008). The intent of this study is to examine the leadership styles best suited in promoting employee retention, and the reasons that Generation Xers align with, such as family values.
The chapter includes background of the problem, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, significance of the study, definitions, conceptual/theoretical framework, hypotheses, and the nature of the study.
Background of the Problem
Technology has benefited humankind to advance in many communications methods such as e-mail or instant messaging (Twenge & Campbell, 2008). Advancements prevail in this field across global regions and the workplaces. This is one avenue where such reforms have started showing. As a result, information sharing and organizational decisions are quick, and most Generation Xers identify with these unique styles of indirect communications. Also the physical settings and locations of normal business meetings have changed over the decades. The change has been from local conference rooms to webcast meeting on a global scale with large organizational audiences (Twenge & Campbell, 2008).
The ability for leaders to communicate and manage a workforce globally introduces challenges in the style of communications used to preserve a shared vision across the organization. As Generation X leaders succeed Baby Boomers into leadership positions, they will need to alter their leadership style to manage the growing number of Generation Y members effectively. They will also need adjustments on the changes from innovative information technology in the diverse fields of operations (Johnson & Lopes, 2008).
Certain distinctions in management styles exist between Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Y. The distinction is in their social upbringing in life, relationship with staff and team members, and success in business and management. Baby Boomers were in their childhood involved with social events during adolescence through neighborhood events such as football, games, and other extracurricular involvement. As a result, this group had a cohesive set of family values that transgressed to work and leadership styles. Conversely, the raising of Generation X group was more independent in nature because individuals did not interact much with other people. This resulted from family characteristics such as higher divorce rates and single-parent households (Gribben, 2007). As such there are many issues up-coming in the experience of this generation in handling matters arising within the workplace (Johnson & Lopes, 2008).
Numerous scholars argued that they have some weakness concerning social interactions within the workplace affected by external reasons. The leadership skills of Gen Y and GenX in business are similar resulting from their acceptance of technology within the workplace (Johnson & Lopes, 2008).
According to Logan (2008), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compared the workforce of 2000 and the projections for 2010 to reflect a 31% decline for 35-45 year-olds, and a 2% decrease for 24 and 34-year olds. Leaders from each of these generational cultures have different methods of conducting business and communication to their organizations. According to Logan (2008), fewer people exist in the workforce especially those grouped in Generation X, when compared to the case of 30 years ago. Many of the Generation X and Y groups have used technology as part of their daily lives experience in work, school, or personally. The adoption of Information technology by these generations has promoted a decline in socialization.
A problem that exists among this generation is the social skills needed for communication and interaction. This is because most new generational types choose to communicate via e-mail or instant messaging. Social sites for instance facebook and twitter have undergone development in the modern day and they have boomed. Many Generation Y members take shelter in such avenues concerning communications and social interactions (Johnson & Lopes, 2008).
The benefit of this study is to deliver the framework to accept the current economic state of the world and accept the need for well refined leaders to impose change in organizations. According to Terjesen, Vinnicombe, and Freeman (2007) in the current economic recession leaders need to use new ways to stabilize losses and focus on long-term growth. From the analysis conducted by behavioral scientists, they established the first step that any leader needs to improve recovery is to recognize individual responsibility and this have been one of the major weaknesses on his or her part. Most businesses worldwide are declining in the recession and leaders need to find new ways to empower people and achieve long-term growth.
Statement of the Problem
A problem exists with retaining Generation X individuals in business and Information technology fields despite many new opportunities because of increased retirement of Baby Boomers. This problem has negative impacts on such organizations because a high percentage of Generations X individuals are not loyal to organizations. Generation Xers typically spend three to five years within an organization (Terjesen, Vinnicombe & Freeman, 2007).
Despite leadership practices currently in place, challenges exist in retention of Generation X business professionals at a high rate of employee turnover compared to Baby Boomers. Also the Baby Boomer labor force is double in size compared to Generation X, which makes loyalty another challenge for organizations. An appropriate study that researches leadership styles and practices by assessing Generational X alignment can be helpful in improving how organizations keep Generation X business professionals and their knowledge base in the information technology field (Jason, 2009).
The Baby Boomer generation makes up a significant number of the leadership values and structures in business today. An estimated 66% of the Baby Boomer generation is facing retirement (Terjesen, Vinnicombe & Freeman, 2007). The problem in keeping Gen X professionals is discovering a link in which the leadership styles are relative to different generations, and the core values that attract the Generation X to take part in organizational efforts independently.
Surveys will be used in this research. The launching will be electronically to a general population of Baby Boomers, Generation Y and X individuals within a workplace setting in New York City area. The research process will identify participants from the majority of business professionals in the Information technology field. Also the population of this Generation X group will come from information technology organizations with the population target of at least 300 respondents to give some quality in the calculations performed.
Purpose of the Study
This research will be facilitated to discover, which leadership styles and practices that best aligns with Gen X business professionals. The study purposes to evaluate the Baby Boomers assertions about Generation X that they are slackers, underachievers, whiners, and lazy complainers. They have a wrong mentality that "this world owes them" (Benson, 1998, p. 76). It also looks into how information technology introduction in organizations may influence on retaining diverse generations at the workplace. The study looks into Generation Y, as associating with Democratic leadership more where leaders involve subordinates in all layers of decision-making through solicitation and sharing and not as it was in the traditional styles of dictation.
This study also explores Generation X relationship to the laissez-faire concept in which leaders indulge professionals in all decisions to some extent leaving them to make decisions on their own with little guidance either from the group or from the leader. The intent of this research is to discover what leadership styles best align with the current working generation in the Information technology field to retain those professionals and contain the knowledge base. The survey will conduct assessments in various departments within the Information Technology field inputting the different generations to ascertain their preferences in the leadership skills. This survey should discover possible ways through which organizations can strengthen leadership styles within the workplace and relationships between followers and leaders particularly Generation X. The purpose is to generate findings on best leadership approaches to retain Generation X within the workplace, which is the information that will be of value to all Departments in facing generational differences of leadership preferences.
The dependent variable in the proposed research will be the leadership style preference between diverse generational themes. The independent variables include the different generations including generation X, Y and Baby Boomers. The paper holds along five main themes including environment at the workplace, employee fulfillment or satisfaction, work flexibility, benefits gained, and the level of technology. The study involves ethnicity, generation type and level of education as the three independent variables considered in the completion of the study.
The researcher will conduct the research through collected surveys. They will be initiated electronically to the NYC tri-state area business professional in the Information technology field. Additionally, the population of this Generation X group will come from publicly traded Information technology organizations listed on the Stock Exchange market in New York. Sample data for the survey shall analyze leadership style, practices, demographic information, and some personal traits. This population will target 300 respondents from the group of employees in the publicly traded Information technology organizations listed on the Stock Exchange market in New York. They will give some level of quality in the calculations performed.
Significance of the Problem
This proposed study will aim at recognizing an ongoing breakdown of leadership styles meant to sustain younger leaders necessitated by developing into valuable worker roles in any organization. In general, this study will be of value in determining which leadership styles and practices best align with Gen X business professionals. The study will also look into the literature, which examines the existent leadership styles and evaluate their compatibility within diverse generations including the Generation X and Y.
This is appropriate as a study in delivering the long sought literature. The study will also provide recommendations to organizations on the way to reform the leadership styles to retain the generation X within the workplace. It will also be ideal in knowing how to handle the rest of the Generations at the work place.
Most of the literature on leadership has been focusing much on organizations' interests, assuming compliance of diverse generations. However, there is little literature about how information technology has influenced generations and various leadership style preferences among them. The survey results will be of value to the scholars, those willing to take more of the studies in the same field of leadership styles at the workplaces and their compatibility with diverse generations. The research will contribute to organizations much information about best practices at the workplace in terms of leadership approaches. It will deliver a comparison of traditional leadership styles with the style that Generation X and Y favor within the workplace. In a broad context, it will be a research of value to the modern organizations.
Nature of the Study
The research will be quantitative in nature. This is an appropriate method for a study of this nature where there will be a quantification of leadership styles preferences to evaluate Generation preferences and come up with the best approaches for organizations in this new century. Quantitative method is generally a systematic empirical investigation of research quantitative properties or particular research phenomena and their ideal relationships. The objective of using quantitative research in this research will be to help in developing and employing mathematical models, hypotheses and theories pertaining to generation preferences in leadership styles within organizations (Stapleton et al., 2007).
The process of measurement will be central to quantitative research because it will be ideal in providing the fundamental connection between mathematical expression and empirical observation of quantitative relationships in the research. Quantitative research has been in use in many social sciences disciplines. In many social science research studies, the method is ideal in producing relevant and astronomical data. Therefore it will be appropriate in making more general conclusions related to the hypotheses of the study. The quantitative method will be ideal for study in verifying the truth of the espoused hypotheses in this study. Therefore, it will be possible to determine which leadership styles and practices best align with GenX business professionals.
The use of digital technology in business is a common practice for Gen X and Y, and as business leaders need adapt to new technologies to restructure organizational communication (Swaminathan, 2009). The problem that Information technology introduces relevant to communication styles among business leaders is a decline of social interaction and loss of emotions, expression, and motivation through email, instant messaging, and new digital forms of communications. The technology shift introduced from the Baby Boomer to Gen X and Y leaders will have a significant impact to the organization.
The research will engage survey as the proposed research design. Surveys will be in substantial use in assessing the generation satisfaction. For this study, the non-experimental design will be used. This will do well in assessing the comfort ability of diverse generations on the leadership styles applied within their workplaces. The surveys have a respectable history in use in many researches related to preferences and assessment of satisfaction. Cross-sectional surveys in this case will be describing and measuring populations at a particular point (Lyons et al., 2007). They are ideal for this study as they will give quick descriptive results thus helping in the identification of the differences existing significantly between populations (Klaus, 2004) (for example, the comparison of the satisfaction level in each generation on a particular leadership style).
Longitudinal surveys will also be applied in this study to describe and measure populations, either through re-surveying them, or through a process of monitoring individual experience at varying times (Keith, Paul & Martin, 2009). The good thing about surveys in this research is that they will make it possible to undertake research at all institution levels, therefore, seeking data from diverse respondents. This will make it possible in the efforts of the research to recognize an ongoing breakdown leadership styles to sustain of younger leaders brought transitioning into valuable worker roles in any organization.
The advantage of using urveys in this research is mainly to ensure validity and reliability in the research (Keith, Paul & Martin, 2009). This is because it provides appropriate instruments for conducting research. Reliability in this case refers to the survey method being able to deliver consistency of results (Patrik & Stig-Arne, 2006).
In fulfilling the goals of this research, the survey has a vast potential in incorporating the experiences of all generations including Generation X and Y. This is particularly in the field of leadership within organizations. The survey will also be ideal in providing assumptions of the incidence of leadership preferences from the perspective of diverse generations. Another potential, which the survey has in this research is making it possible to link the research findings from different generations from the collected data to begin to evaluations of what organizations should do to handle and retain the Generation X. This will make it possible to develop an analysis of the level of loyalty of Generations X individuals to organizations and what influences the same relating it to leadership styles.