Leadership – The Generation Gap

In The End of Leadership, which was published in 2012, I wrote about what evidently was becoming a leadership gap. A technology gap between older leaders and younger leaders – and, more importantly, younger followers. I noted that few CEOs were cutting edge, were “using social media to engage with others in their companies, to share information and ideas from their companies’ perspectives, and to empower their work force to communicate on behalf of the organization.” I further quoted an expert who remarked that leaders were “wasting the opportunity to lead and manage in cyberspace.”

During the last six years the gap in technology savvy between older leaders and younger ones has become seismic. To wit: the evidence of earlier this week – during Mark Zuckerberg’s two-day testimony before Congress. This is not to fault members of Congress. They are who they are, politicians, usually of a certain age, up against a man who likely is decades younger, and who arguably is social media’s greatest innovator.

It turned out no context.

  • Zuckerberg emerged from the proceedings unscathed by lawmakers purportedly assembled to rake him over the coals.
  • Zuckerberg was master of the technology – and master of the chamber. He was as consistently respectful and appropriately deferential as deeply informed.
  • Zuckerberg did more explaining Facebook than defending Facebook.
  • Zuckerberg demonstrated that technological illiteracy is major problem for many if not most senior leaders. Most senior leaders cannot possibly address their illiteracy on their own. They must depend on, generally, younger followers.
  • Zuckerberg would do well to cooperate and collaborate with Congress. Most of the very members he once regarded as enemy aliens would be willing to work with him and his kind to regulate business behemoths such as his. Ironically, these selfsame lawmakers will need him to help them regulate him.


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