As a pastor, I encounter the challenges of leading and ministering to multiple generations on a daily basis. Each one has their own preferences. Each one has their own experiences that have shaped how they think and react. I am learning more and more every day that a “one size fits all” approach to leadership is counter-productive and frustrating to everyone involved in the leadership circle. I have asked questions much like these (to myself) many times. “Why can’t everyone look at this the same way?” “Where did that response come from?” “How can we get hung up on something a small as this?” I believe I have finally found an answer. In “Sticking Points; How to Get Four Generations Working Together in the Twelve Places They Come Apart:, author and conference speaker Haydn Shaw casts a very bright and much needed light on the reasons why multiple generations do instinctively sync when it comes to decision-making, values, and priorities.
Shaw calls this friction “sticking points”. These points are areas of life and work that are most likely to cause conflict and disagreement between generations. Shaw begins by identifying the four age groups (generations) most commonly identified by researchers. These four groups become the comparison/contrast throughout the rest of the book. He begins with the Traditionalists (those born before 1945). This generation is marked by the Great Depression, World War II, and the move from the farm to the city. Shaw then moves to the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). This generation is marked by an incredible post-World War II birth rate, the influence of television as a unifying influence, and a spirit of optimism. The third group is Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980). I fall in the exact center of this generation. This generation is marked by high divorce rate, the introduction of the term “latchkey” kids, high recession rates, and skepticism as seen in a lack of faith in institutions (government, corporation, religion). Finally, Shaw highlights Millennials (those born between 1981-2001). Millennials are marked by over-protective parents, the technology boom, 9/11, and have grown up with metal detectors, airport security, terrorism, and a sense of immediate gratification.
Chapter four though seven are invaluable in understanding what makes each generation think and react the way they do. Shaw refers to these observations as “ghost stories”, meaning the influences and events that have pre-conditioned their outlook on life today. These chapters alone would be worth the price of the book itself. Shaw moves on to detail the twelve sticking points most commonly experienced. The points are: communication, decision making, dress code, feedback, fun at work, knowledge transfer, loyalty, meetings, policies, respect, training, and work ethic. Shaw dedicates an entire chapter to each sticking point. Each chapter as well has a five-step plan for dealing with each point. These five steps for leading through generational differences are: acknowledge (talk about the differences), appreciate (focus on the why and not the what), flex (agree as to how to accommodate), leverage (maximize the strength of each generation), and resolve (deciding which option is best when flexing isn’t enough).
Shaw has written an excellent book. Sticking Points is a book that I needed at this point in my life. I have seen the generational breakdown that Shaw highlights. I have never seen it explained in such a simple, informational, and precise way. Although business leaders will benefit greatly from this book, parents will as well. One of the things that infuriates me most is that my sixteen year old son can’t seem to put down his phone for more than ten seconds. This book helped me understand that he, as a Millennial, utilizes technology to maintain contact with his “tribe” of friends whose plans are extremely fluid. I get it. I rarely label a book as “must read”. However, this is no doubt one of those. Whether you are a CEO, teacher, pastor, or community leader, Sticking Points will prove to be worth your time and energy. It is a book that will read several times. A five-star book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”