On Skepticism

At the ILTA ’09 conference in August, I attended a couple of sessions by Jason Dorsey, the Gen Y guy. At the second of his sessions, he mentioned a service online that helped people find couches to crash on. Then he said, “You Gen Xers in the room are looking this up right now to see if I’m telling the truth.” I quickly dropped my Blackberry and pretended that I hadn’t been doing exactly that, much to the amusement of the Boomer sitting next to me.

Gen X leaders aren’t as common as we should be. At the point in our careers when the previous generation should start retiring to let us take over, they’re not. Their 401Ks have been decimated, and they just don’t feel old yet (hi, dad!). I was very fortunate to be able to move into leadership early in my career.

As a Gen X leader, I found that leading and managing other Gen Xers was incredibly easy. Here are my tips for managing Gen Xers:

  • Maintain honesty and credibility
  • Address their skepticism
  • Be yourself

Luckily, this leadership style works well for geeks, too, since their intelligence and natural skepticism means that many of them have Gen X attitudes even if they’re older or younger than that generation.

I have to wonder whether anyone has studied Gen X attitudes (skepticism) and juxtaposed that with geek attitudes (also skepticism). I also have to wonder if that means that Gen X geeks are incredibly difficult for non-Gen X non-geeks to manage…