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Passing the Reins to Generation X

rw-admin | 06/28/2016

Generations by Birth Year

Sandwiched between two behemoth generations, lies the lesser discussed, Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1978, Xers have a tendency to be overlooked in research studies since statistics generally lean towards encompassing mass. This is unfortunate since many of these, independent thinking (possibly once rebellious), latch-key kids have turned into great leaders. As a matter of fact, already leading the majority of growing companies: 68% of Inc. 500 CEOs are Gen Xers.

American media seems to be obsessed with the sheer number of Boomers that are retiring each day and even more obsessed with the tech-prodigies known as Millennials.  So it is not hard to imagine that the middle child, who is regarded for independence, is often ignored.  Xers generally fall somewhere in the middle on social and political issues, technology use and ability, and many of the other major differences between Boomers and Millennials. Do they text and Tweet and love their ultra HD 4K T.V.?  Most do.  But they also remember using cassette tapes to record music off the radio and VCRs. Having seen so many technological advances growing up, Xers can relate to both “before and after,” creating a unique understanding and balance.

What developments helped shape Generation X?  Here are a few:

  • Watergate scandal
  • Ronald Reagan as President
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall
  • The Challenger disaster
  • The Rodney King beatings
  • OJ Simpson trial
  • AIDS
  • Columbine
  • Personal computers
  • Videogames
  • The internet

As the first generation to deal with the rising divorce rate and both parents working, Xers naturally developed not only a sense of independence, but also resilience and adaptability, all contributing positively to their work ethic.  Emerging as a group of adults proving to be highly balanced and extremely productive in the work place, Xers exhibit a gamut of highly desirable traits and skills allowing them to present a new, yet highly effective style of leadership.


Once highly misunderstood and defined as the “slacker generation,” Xers have grown into fiercely prolific adults who appreciate work/life balance, stemming from the latch-key effect of the 1980’s.   They are not afraid of hard work and thrive when learning new skills.  They have the ability to interact and understand their co-workers from the Boomer and Millennial generations and have no problem communicating effectively with both.  It is no wonder that Xers are smoothly transitioning into the leadership roles across all corporate industries.

Though small in numbers (about 20% of the workforce), Generation X is big in ability and competency.  As the Baby Boomers pass the reins, Xers have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the pre and post digital age.  It is time to start taking notice, because chances are sooner than later, your next boss will be of this generation.

Written By: Angie Barnes, Q Works Group