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Generation X — not millennials — is changing the nature of work

Source | www.cnbc.com | Stephanie Neal | Richard Wellins

The generation that is quickly occupying the majority of business leadership roles is one that’s grown up playing video games, spends the most time shopping online, and uses social media more habitually than any other generation.

If you were thinking it’s millennials, that’s probably because they’ve dominated the media’s focus for the past decade. But it’s actually Generation X, which covers those born between 1965 and 1981 by our definition.

As Pew Research unflatteringly referred to them in a 2014 report, Gen X is “America’s neglected ‘middle child,’” and we don’t hear much about the group. It seems that all eyes are on the slowly retiring baby boomers or the ascending millennials, now the world’s majority generation. But our recent study revealed that Gen X is playing a critical — and underappreciated — role in leadership as organizations grapple with digital transformation.

In our Global Leadership Forecast 2018 — published by DDI, The Conference Board and EY with support from CNBC — we took a look at more than 25,000 leaders spanning 54 countries and 26 major industry sectors. We found that Gen X now accounts for 51 percent of leadership roles globally. With an average of 20 years of workplace experience, they are primed to quickly assume nearly all top executive roles.

Suzy Welch: This simple question from Jeff Bezos changed the way I think about work

Our research revealed that, although they aren’t typically considered digital natives to the extent that millennials are, Gen X leaders are just as likely to be comfortable leveraging technology in the workplace: Some 54 percent of Gen X and 56 percent of millennials reported that they are digitally savvy.

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