Leadership: The Process of Intersubjective Meaning-Making

Generational Differences and Leaders & Followers Relationship

Salahuddin (2011) argued that the lack of generational understanding leads to “potential organizational strife and dissatisfaction that can lead to organizational failure: decreased productivity, employee dissatisfaction, and high employee turnover rates.”. A form of situational leadership, where the leaders choose to adapt themselves to each generation according to their needs is the appropriate response to creating solutions around the generational difference (Salahuddin, 2011, p. 6 ; Lord, Brown, Harvey, & Hall, 2001, p. 311)

It is possible to benefit from this generational difference. To accomplish that, Salahuddin (2011) argued that a method called “difference deployment” is effectual (p. 6). Difference deployment aims at creating diverse teams of individuals to maximize their potential and to tap into the diversity pool of the organizational knowledge base, skills, and talents (Salahuddin, 2011, p. 6; von Laer, 2019, DOL 760, Forum 3). The literature equivalently calls this method “Socialization”; For example, Anderson, Baur, Griffith, and Buckley (2017) posited mitigating the negative impact of individual differences using “socialization procedures” (p. 255) One of the precursors to creating socialized teams, is a relational knowledge of followers. Uhl-Bien (2006) argued that “true knowing is always a process of relating; relating is a constructive, ongoing process of meaning-making” (p. 655) 

Psychodynamics and Leaders & Followers Relationship

House, Shane, and Herold, (1996) argued that linking leadership and personality is challenging since “personality tends to be a relatively enduring dispositional factor” (Riggio, 2019, p. 229) While difficult, it is essential to study and imply the lessons of Pschodyanimcs. Bryman, Collinson, Grint, Jackson, and Uhl-Bien (2014) highlight the importance of understanding psychodynamics and how it “revolves around the highly complex interplay between leaders and followers” (p. 385). Bryman et al. (2019) go further and call leaders “merchants of hope” who are “speaking to the collective imagination of their followers, co-opting them to join them in a great adventure” (p. 385). Good leaders appreciate the complexities of followers’ personalities (Bryman et al., 2019, p. 385). By understanding what motivates individuals and teams in an organization, leaders create a situation where the followers follow voluntarily (Bryman et al., 2019, p. 385).


Anderson, H. J., Baur, J. E., Griffith, J. A., & Buckley, M. R. (2017). What works for you may not work for (Gen)Me: Limitations of present leadership theories for the new generation. The Leadership Quarterly28(1), 245–260. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2016.08.001

Bryman, A., Collinson, D., Grint, K., Jackson, B., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2014). The Sage Handbook of Leadership. Los Angeles Sage.

House, R. J., Shane, S. A., & Herold, D. M. (1996). Rumors of the Death of Dispositional Research Are Vastly Exaggerated. The Academy of Management Review21(1), 203. https://doi.org/10.2307/258634

Lord, R. G., Brown, D. J., Harvey, J. L., & Hall, R. J. (2001). Contextual Constraints on Prototype Generation and Their Multilevel Consequences for Leadership Perceptions. The Leadership Quarterly12(3), 311–338. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1048-9843(01)00081-9

Riggio, R. E. (2019). What’s Wrong with Leadership? : Improving Leadership Research and Practice. New York, Ny: Routledge.

Salahuddin, M. M. (2011). Generational Differences Impact On Leadership Style And Organizational Success. Journal of Diversity Management (JDM)5(2). https://doi.org/10.19030/jdm.v5i2.805

Uhl-Bien, M. (2006). Relational Leadership Theory: Exploring the Social Processes of Leadership and Organizing. The Leadership Quarterly17(6), 654–676. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2006.10.007

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