Date of Conferral
Richard S. Schuttler
For the first time in American history, there are 5 generations in the workforce concurrently. This historical event has caused workplace challenges where leaders have inadequate knowledge regarding the unique skill sets of each generational cohort. Without an understanding of these unique skill sets, leaders cannot adapt their leadership style to create greater production in a multigenerational workplace. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory multiple-case study was to gain an understanding of the skill sets of each generational cohort and to discover how their leaders can adapt their leadership style to develop effective strategies to create a more productive multigenerational workforce. Strauss and Howe’s generational theory and Burns’ transforming leadership theory were used as the conceptual frameworks. A purposeful sample of 13 participants from 2 fire departments consisting of each generational cohort and their leaders shared their experiences through semistructured in-person interviews. Data were collected, transcribed, and hand coded for analysis. The findings yielded 7 themes leading to 3 conclusions. First, each cohort exhibits specific behaviors and values and offer unique skill sets. Second, little is known of Generation Z’s skill sets. Finally, while leaders should be aware of generational skill sets, their leadership strategies should focus on engaging individual followers based on their distinctive characteristics. Application of the findings of this study might affect social change by providing insights for leaders to better identify an adaptive leadership style to lead a multigenerational workforce more effectively. This might also lead to an increase in morale, retention rates, productivity, and general job satisfaction.