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Following the Idols (Part 4): Followers generation (1997-2008)

A series on the business idols of different generations.

The first real change in idol imagery came with the Diplomats generation, breaking with the trends that had been largely in place for decades. The next real turnaround is expected by many to come from the Follower Generation, as they reject many of the characteristics of the idols that are now present. What are they? Career focus, results orientation, the importance of money and possessions, which were important to talent in the 36 years before them, even if to varying degrees. So the Followers age group continues to filter the idols, and those who do not take responsibility for society, for the common good, for the community, for the people, at least to the extent that their position and money allow, cannot remain idols before them. For the time being, this generation is not yet very vocal and looks up to the two generations above it in age, but also tests their lives. The pandemic has significantly amplified these needs and this trend.

Ideal timing for the Follower Generation

What is important to know about this generation is that they are the ones who not only talk about higher things like saving our planet or global hunger, but they really care about it, they really want to do something about it, even if it interferes with their own interests. This is the biggest change from previous generations: self-interest is taking a back seat in the thinking of the whole generation in general. This does not mean, of course, that everyone gives up their ambition as Mother Teresa to help their fellow human beings. But even if a strong, self-interested personality is given from this generation, it will not be as individually focused as similar characters born from previous generations. The change they would bring would have appeared much later in business, since they are not a burgeoning generation. They do not want to get into high positions, certainly not immediately, and certainly not without a job. The real experience of life, friends, family and companionship come much more to the fore. They are the ones who no longer want to “waste their time” at work, but want to learn and do something useful. This is why, before the pandemic, they were labelled “charmed” or “artists”, but now many people have learned that their ideology is worth following. In other words, the processes set in motion by the viral crisis coincide exactly with the interests of the Followers. This makes them very popular in the labour market. It is very important to note that the Ambitionists generation suffered a lot in the workplace, as their constant expectations and individual interests were very difficult to reconcile with the goals of the organisation in many cases. But as long as they were the youngest in the labour market, there was really no other option for employers but to fight for them by adopting a “look modern” approach. Well, there’s been a huge change in that, as the Followers are now the youngest in the workforce. If someone wants to appear trendy and modern, they appeal to them, and they are significantly less of a problem for companies than the generation one generation older than they used to be.

The Idols of the Follower Generation

Managers who have a happy life. Those who have a life in general, for whom work is a vocation, and who like to spend time with their vocation. It sounds very idyllic, but there are more and more of them. For them in particular, the start-up mania pushed by the generation of Ambitionists, with a big “exit” at the end, is not so much undesirable as misunderstood and negative. The Followers generation believes in building as a team, and building good and useful things at that. But if that’s the case, why would anyone want to sell their useful, good stuff? And this approach does filter out idols considerably. This is why the Followers generation also tends to look at the Diplomats generation as idols, but only those members who conform to the rules mentioned above. Many companies do not even understand that the young workforce simply does not want to work, or if they do work, that convenience – such as entry and duration – is of particular importance in their lives. And other companies report that the Followers generation of workers has a huge workload. Where there is an idol, working hours are not an issue, the Supporter attitude emerges and they want to serve the one who provides them with the right, happy life. It is important to note, however, that these ideas are not brought to the forefront and discussed in most cases, as this generation is much more introverted than other generations. However, they do discuss the situation amongst themselves and therefore what they think about the business is critical. Many Generation Ambitionists are failing as leaders these days because they are supposed to recruit and retain young people, but for them this pushing and shoving is totally unacceptable. And so the conclusion is made: young people are lazy, don’t like to work and are not goal-oriented. Let us not believe these misleading statements from our colleagues. They are simply not accepted as idols.