Lauren Fernandez had yet another great post on her blog the other day titled, Bridging the Generation Gap: How Do We Overcome It? The post and the comments are equally worth reading and should be checked out now…stop reading, go check it out. Seriously, go.
Okay…so while commenting on her post, I began to think about the concept of what I call “creative authority.” (I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with that phrase in this context).
The “generation gap” is in essence, the failure of seasoned professionals and Millenials to cooperate efficiently in a professional setting. I’ve discussed my thoughts about this issue before. I think a big reason for this gap is a matter of authority. “Creative authority” or the assumption that, as a result of a difference in age (on both young and old end), one’s thoughts and ideas outweigh that of others’ is never alright and should be eradicated from all professional environments.
On the other hand, “mentorial authority”, or the authority that a good mentor would practice on their mentoree, is a great thing that can benefit both sides.
I will use my experience in my internship at Ruder Finn Interactive as an example of what you SHOULD do. I speak a lot about my summer internship experience and how amazing the people at Ruder Finn Interactive were at being receptive and supportive of my ideas. The person I worked closest with was Yan Shikhvarger who’s a great guy and smart as hell.
Yan was always receptive to, and supportive of my ideas and even let me take on projects on my own after seeing that I was capable enough to do so. He exercized authority in areas that were needed, by providing criticisms based on his expertise and guiding me through the processes that I felt unfamiliar with. That is the type of mentor mentality, or “authority” that every Millenial needs. I felt that all my ideas and thoughts were given equal consideration to anyone else on the project team. Yan did not practice “creative authority” and I am forever grateful. I would not be as confident in my endeavors as I am today if he made me feel like my ideas didn’t count as a result of my age.
Now as I said, this existence of the generational gap can be attributed to all professionals, young and old. Authority has been drilled into us millenials for as long as we can remember, from parents, teachers, coaches, and now bosses. A general mentality that because we are younger, our ideas are not worthy of full consideration is something that has been apparent our entire lives. On the other end, many millenials have convinced themselves that their ideas are better than an older professional’s ideas. They think that older professionals are too committed to tradition and have no innovation left in them. Both mentalities hinder cooperation and are not productive.
A big step in bridging the gap is to break this mindset. Young professionals must acknowledge that…
- their ideas are just as good (but not necessarily better) as any other professional’s ideas, regardless of age
- experienced professionals are experienced professionals for a reason… their ideas are what made them who they are and should be respected
Older professionals have to
- encourage millenials to express their thoughts and ideas
- give those thoughts an ideas equal consideration to that of their own
- realize that incorporating those ideas does not make them look bad, but rather emphasizes their ability to spot a good idea
Ultimately, we all have to realize that there is nothing to gain from “creative authority”and everything to gain from “mentorial authority”.
“Creative Authority” should not exist.