My Agency and My Age

May 7, 2024 | About L2L, Generational Differences, Leadership

I was raised with a great deal of freedom and freedom from oversight. My time as a child wasn’t overly structured by my parents. I was left to figure most things out on my own. My problems were mine to solve, my schoolwork was mine to complete, and my social life was mine to maintain. My parents didn’t come to school events and they certainly didn’t play with me. My value within my family was measured by my contributions to the household. 

My mom once said to me, “It would never have occurred to me to raise you the way you are raising your child.” Which was to say, I raised my daughter with structure and intimacy. We talk, we share, we spend time together, I help her navigate challenges, we strive to understand each other’s feelings and opinions, and yes, she played organized sports. 

Looking back on the way many in my generation were raised, I can see how our parents’ choices, along with the wider contexts of our school, social and political climate, and relationship to technology, made me resourceful and independent.

These strengths I developed served me well, but I learned them because of how I grew up. Like everyone, I adapted to my context and developed the strengths I needed to do well. And I carried those strengths into my work.

Is it any wonder that I prioritized agency in my professional life?

In fact, I founded Leverage to Lead on the belief that women leaders needed agency. Agency was my niche and my business’ value proposition. Agency, after all, was what I wanted for myself–to build my own way, to work how I wanted, with whom I wanted, and when I wanted. Turns out, agency is also a central characteristic of those of us who belong to Generation X. 

Now when I encounter others who don’t prioritize agency, I no longer consider it an interpersonal or professional development problem.

Working with someone who wants direction instead of freedom isn’t a clash of styles.

Leading someone who needs structure and feedback is not a fundamental misalignment, nor is it a fault or lack. It’s a generational difference. 

And, like all differences, we can work across this one, too.

It starts with understanding our identity so we can hold space for other identities, appreciate our differences, and know that we hold a perspective and not the truth.

We can examine where our beliefs come from, hold them responsibly, and interrogate them when necessary–all with compassion and empathy for ourselves and others.

If these topics resonate with you, join us for The Future of Equitable Work, Leverage to Lead’s leadership intensive. 

Session 2: Age Matters

Navigating Multi-Generational Workplaces and Leveraging Age Diversity

How do we lead across generational differences, and their varying communication styles, world views, conflict management skills, feedback expectations, and values?

We can leverage age diversity by understanding how our perspectives and expectations can be shaped by the events, political climate, and technology of our generation. We can build awareness and inner agility to disrupt age bias. And we can build structures that enable and support people’s agency to hold responsibility and create their own safety.

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