Never before has the power of ‘intergenerational leadership’ to harness the collective strengths of teams been as crucial or as challenging as we seek to steward those who will take collective responsibility for our future.

The concept of leading teams or communities that include multiple different generations isn’t a new leadership challenge. What is new, however, is the extraordinarily ‘different’ perspective of Millennials and Gen-Zs entering today’s workforce. 

Two sides of the same coin

Irrespective of country, religion or condition – everyone is capable of a holistic universal mantra to “Leave the world better than we found it…” Millennials and Gen-Zs, in particular, represent generations consumed by this focus. The ‘Why’ behind work is their key driver; and for this reason, they often look at the corporate world with a healthy discontent. The generation who has gone before is not as inspiring as they’d like them to be; and companies the world over have found it hard to create the type of environment where work is equated with an overarching ‘Why’ that inspires trust, commitment and tenure. 

Conversely, seasoned leaders often fall into the trap of stereotyping today’s workforce entrants by perpetuating common misconceptions, overlooking their multitude of talents, skills and aspirations but also the fact that they have demonstrated remarkable adaptability and technological proficiency.

An important crossroad 

“As stewards of the future, this conflict represents an important crossroad for today’s leaders who can choose to ‘step away’; or to step up and take responsibility for shaping the experiences and stories of the young leaders under our influence, tapping into their immense potential to completely rewrite our definition of success and how we go about achieving it, together,” Vanessa Gavan, Founder and Joint Managing Director at Maximus. 

The power of intergenerational leadership to unlock potential 

Maximus believes that leveraging strong intergenerational leadership, now is an opportune moment to tap into the interplay between generations as a critical driver of leadership succession – the hero being a synergy between experienced leaders who have weathered business highs and lows over decades of economic cycles; and younger leaders brimming with tech smarts and fresh thinking that will become the catalyst for future success.

These leaders acknowledge that wisdom, innovation and transformative ideas are not the exclusive domain of any one generation. Instead, they recognise the value of leaders from diverse backgrounds coming together, drawing from their unique experiences, perspectives, and expertise, to foster resilience and adaptability and fuel innovation to ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future. 

Purpose as a uniting force 

At face value, an ’older’ and ‘younger’ workforce often appears to be on a collision course; and it’s difficult to marry these very different overriding focuses on ‘productivity’ and ‘social justice’. At the nexus of these, however, sits a uniting force capable of catalysing not only unity but exponential change.  

“Productivity and a desire for social justice both have the potential to redefine our future in a way that reignites hope; and redefines achievement for all of us – but these must both be put to work in service of a greater purpose,” says Vanessa. 

As leaders today, our number one focus when it comes to the intergenerational challenge should be on addressing the ‘disconnect’ (across all generations) from stoking the fire around what fuels our personal and professional passions. As the stewards of a generation responsible for our tomorrows, today is all about creating a vision of what that looks like and helping a generation to define themselves by their ability to make that tomorrow a reality. 

Harnessing our collective strengths 

“Only then will we be able to move beyond defining our differences; to focus on how we harness our collective strengths.” believes Vanessa. 

Within this approach, experienced leaders lead with wisdom; but learn with openness; and younger leaders become the bridge builders who connect wisdom and innovation. It’s time to recognise the value of leaders from diverse generations coming together – drawing from their unique experiences, perspectives, and expertise – to foster resilience and adaptability but also fuel innovation to ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future. 

Amidst the current unprecedented pace of change; technological innovations and market disruptions – organisations will need to harness the power of ‘intergenerational leaders’ to pave the way for innovation, adaptability and sustainable growth.

Asking the right questions 

“Now is not the time to seek to ‘define’ a brand-new workforce by what others say about them; but rather, it’s time to ‘redefine’ the definitions and limitations workforces have placed on them; and they may have placed on themselves,” believes Vanessa. 

It’s time to tap into and celebrate their unconventional ideas; ability to challenge established norms and willingness to experiment to propel our organisations forward. 

Together, let’s generate multifaceted solutions to today’s complex, nuanced business environments that not only overcome obstacles but also drive meaningful progress, enriching organisations’ capacity to excel in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Organisations that invest proactively in leadership development programs and mentorship initiatives through a strategic combination of mentorship and continuous learning will be those who prepare the ‘next gen’ of leaders for the future. This dynamic preparation will equip future leaders to anticipate challenges, lead with resilience and ethics and catalyse positive change to ensure they not only succeed but also inspire those who follow in their footsteps.


Maximus would love to help you tap into the undeniable power of intergenerational leadership to create a synergy that will propel your next generation forward.

This November in Melbourne and Sydney, our ‘Maximus Next Gen Immersion’ will explore the complex dynamics of intergenerational leaders. 

A first for the Australian leadership community, this immersion will expose leaders to global perspectives on the future of work, together with a clear understanding of how to take action on developing your organisation’s future leaders to accelerate the leadership pathway for the next generation.




  • Leadership
  • next generation
  • Purpose

Related Insights