Today’s Solutions: April 12, 2024

At the heart of The Harris Poll is an unorthodox leadership team that defies generational assumptions. Will Johnson, who straddles the millennial and Gen X generations, teams up with seasoned CEO John Gerzema, a baby boomer with two decades of expertise. Together, they navigate the obstacles of heading to a prestigious institution created by Lou Harris, John F. Kennedy’s pollster.

Balancing act: complementing strengths across generations

Johnson critiques the assumption that age differences impede collaboration, focusing on their ability to balance each other’s strengths and limitations. He humorously notes, “He’s way more in with trends. So, in a lot of ways, I’m the older one, and he’s younger, which is fun.” Despite established generational differences, the duo discovers common ground, challenging the idea of irreparable divisions.

Beyond the surface: nuances in workplace dynamics

“People are way closer together than you would see by looking at the top lines,” said Johnson. The Harris Poll’s examination of views in many places, such as Chicago, reveals common worries that cross generational lines. Johnson highlights the need to disrupt conventional perspectives, stating, “It’s almost people are way closer together, but you have to shake them out of the normal conventions of how they’re looking at things.”

Macro differences, micro unity

While there are macro variations, such as opinions toward job flexibility, Johnson believes that there is widespread agreement on bigger themes such as health, equality, and happiness. “There’s a middle ground of understanding, a yearning that cuts across all spectrums for some common ground and consensus,” he says, rejecting the notion of insurmountable divides.

Resolving disagreements: the art of finding middle ground

Johnson acknowledges that he and Gerzema have occasional differences, but emphasizes the need to take a step back, develop empathy, and understand different points of view. He promotes mutual tolerance and genuine interest as elements of achieving common ground. He claims this method applies not only to leadership but also to managing a multigenerational workplace.

The challenge of multigenerational workforces

With five generations in today’s workforce, Johnson addresses the common perception of silenced voices among Gen Z and millennial workers and the concerns of workers over 50 who may feel excluded. He emphasizes the importance of representation, appreciating every voice at the table, and cultivating a genuine interest in other perspectives.

Encouraging open dialogue: a path to consensus

Johnson promotes open debate and honest expression of viewpoints in the workplace, where various experiences shape perspectives. He dismisses concerns about provoking arguments, arguing that respectful discourse, especially on delicate themes, adds to a good work atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to foster closer connections among employees who have wildly different worldviews.

The Harris Poll’s distinctive leadership dynamic defies prejudices and provides a road map for managing generational diversity in the workplace. Johnson and Gerzema show that, despite age differences, leaders may achieve unity by emphasizing empathy, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to finding common ground. In a world filled with generational divides, their story stands as a testament to the potential for unity amid diversity.

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