My daughter tells me how lucky I am to have had the 90’s as my decade. Often you don’t realise how brilliant your era was until much later. That doesn’t apply to GenXers. We knew we were cool and that were different and we loved it.
We lived in a world before smartphones and social media, when further education was free for all and we were given permission to extend our childhoods and go to Uni. Housing was pretty cheap by todays standards and youth culture, trends and tribes were hitting us relentlessly. Where our parents invented the teenager, we invented cool youth culture. We belonged to communities and tribes, and not just one. Our communities were created in person, at a festival, on the dance floor or in the pub. We could flit between tribes and everyone accepted you. The GenX teenager was fluid, flexible and liberal. Live and let live is still their mantra today.
Our cultures were a paradox, but complimentary. Fast paced yet enduring. A sense of unique independence, yet belonging and unity. New and traditional. We were early adopters of technology, played with it and then moving on quickly to the next great thing. We started the decade with Grunge – the anti-culture, dark, negative and dirty. The fashion was no fashion and the youth started looking like the great unwashed. Grunge was a rebellion to 80’s greed and materialism and all things bright and shiny.
The kids were beginning to reject the way their parents lived and were trying to find their own identity. Soon followed heroin chic with Calvin Klein campaigns using waif like models with dark eyes, messy hair and a ghost like stares. It made Jodi Kidd and Kate Moss household names and society was outraged. But early 1990’s culture was based on irony. Heroin chic was actually poking fun at the fashion industry.
At the same time another sub culture had taken hold, the raver. 1990-1995 was the era of house music, techno and ecstasy. This period probably did more to shape the GenerationX culture than any other trend and it’s informing the way they live their lives and lead today. Whatever your views on drugs now, we need to be honest, a huge amount of kids in the 1990’s were either pot smoking grungers, whizz taking ravers or happy house ectasy clubbers. For the majority it was a bit of everything.
The anti-culture danced on Castlemorton and shook the establishment to the point where it had to be outlawed. The Criminal Justice Bill stopped mass spontaneous gatherings, but legitimised clubs and festivals. It pushed partying overground and the clubbing culture was born. Clubbers were no longer angry, or negative or even up for a fight. In fact all they wanted to do was dance all night, give each other a hug or a massage and fall in love.
Clubbing spanned all ages, colours, sexes, sexual preferences and classes. They were diverse and equal, all wanting the same thing – to feel the music and have an amazing time. As they danced, happiness multiplied and a connection was made, a sense of belonging and acceptance was realised.
The quest for belonging and acceptance still drives X-Leaders. They believe in teams, cultures and communities. They want to create environments where people are happy, fulfilled and feel like they belong. What was once in the nightclub has found it’s way into business through the leadership of the 1990’s generation.
A gift from our baby boomer parents was the belief that if you want something in this life then you need to go after it yourself. This self starter, resilient and DIY mentality serves LeaderX well. They are the most entrepreneurial generation yet, creative, innovative and always looking for hacks to get more time on life. They decided to carve their own identity and way of doing things, so if the structures and establishment didn’t work for them, they’d change it. What appeared as apathy in business and politics is now being shaped by GenX, as they take the position of influence in leadership.
The Cool Britannia kids are now the grown ups. The traveling days maybe over, but their hearts and motivations still remain. The work hard, play hard generation want a life of experience and meaning. They are ambitious, not to make money to more things buy things, but achieve their best, to learn and to make a difference.
LeaderX is all about the team (WE) but totally responsible and accountable for their own work (ME). Loyal to the company, but with no fears about switching or changing roles to further their knowledge and experience. While the work is fulfilling, they stick around, when it’s not, they start looking for new opportunities. The independent, skeptical latch-key kids are leading with autonomy and optimistic realism. They are shaping the working environment, shifting working patterns, creating opportunities and giving flexibility and fun.
Old models of productivity, power over hierarchies and efficiency models that worked well for manufacturing and operational business models are struggling to be effective in the new business landscape. Leaders who still apply old approaches to the current working environment are struggling to reach high performance and we now see a real gap in leadership and talent capability. LeaderX, although they are few, they now have the influence and it is their time to step up and to lead, with purpose, connection and creativity driving them to make a positive impact.
Now is the time of LeaderX and maybe it’s their time to make a difference.