Can the baby boomers and millennials partner successfully?

In our contemporary world, we are presented with a choice to embrace one another or alienate ourselves because of different paradigms. We can choose to be critical of what we do not understand and distance ourselves or we can celebrate our opportunity to effectively build together.

Currently millennials are the largest rising workforce. Therefore partnership—not dominance—will facilitate a synergistic impact upon relationships and productivity. What are some dissimilarities that ultimately make us better together?

Work-driven vs. accomplishment-driven: The boomers believe that if you work hard and long enough you will experience success. They find reward in the work itself and obtain fulfillment through sacrificial investments. The millennials are willing to work hard but must experience personal and corporate benefit by means of tangible end results. The partnership of the generations will demand positive outcomes from the labor so the work itself is not in vain.

Proven methods vs. innovation: Boomers can camp around what they know while the millennials learn on the run. Boomers learn before executing while millennials learn amidst action. Without this understanding established leaders could easily put a lid on the potential of their generational partnerships, thus frustrating millennials as they witness windows of opportunity pass them by.

Technology: Millennials are technologically savvy outrunning boomers by miles. They think, work, and rely on technology. They carry a level of excellence—even perfectionism—allowing technology to maximize their investment with fast-paced tangible results. Let’s face it; the majority of boomers are technologically handicapped. To adequately partner, boomers must personally extend trust to millennials as well as allow their investigative journey for new and better ways.

Relationships: Many boomers have sacrificed relationship on the altar of their work ethic and adapted their identity to their vocation. They want shared goals but prefer to run their race autonomously. Though millennials love conquering workplace challenges, they must have relationship within as well as beyond the workplace. They seek a greater balance in life. I think of the minimalists who don’t care about the big house or the American dream but possess a heart to simply love life and develop intimate relationships. Generational partnership must include leadership models of validation, relational investment, and community. Think about it: who cares if we reach the top of the mountain if we stand there all alone?

Contributions to society: Common to every generation is a desire to discover and release their innate contribution to their world. Boomers often ignored their inherent internal passion to gain financial security or accomplish goals that would leave an inheritance for their children. Millennials, however, are not satisfied with the status quo nor do they want to spend 40 years building a nest egg in a shaky economy, never able to release who they are to the world. They long to fight for and serve a higher cause and make a difference in their world. Generational partnership will take the solid foundations that the boomers have established and build platforms to empower self-discovery and purpose-driven societal impact.

Leadership Paradigms: Boomers grew up with autocratic leadership paradigms while millennials are looking for the opportunity to lead. They do not want to ask permission but to be supported with feedback, acceptance, and opportunities for growth and impact. Generational partnership will connect mentorship and modeling with shared-leadership.

“It’s liberating to be surrounded by people who are different than you.”

It’s not a task to work together, it’s an honor! It is not about competing for power but creating a culture of empowerment. It’s not about title or position but opportunity for positive influence and impact. Likewise, it’s not about who gets the credit but the effects of our partnership. We truly are better together than we are apart. Boomers and millennials need each other to be their best! Both giving, receiving and celebrating to build a highway to where we’ve never gone, do what we’ve never done, and carry each other’s wellbeing and happiness in our hearts.

From one leader to another,

Dr. Melodye Hilton


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