Thursday, March 13, 2003

Geeks and Geezers

While traveling yesterday I managed to finally read a copy of Geeks & Geezers that I’d checked out of our library. To say that this is a transforming book would be an understatement – it is the clearest, most insightful book on leadership I’ve read in at least a couple years.

The authors look at two groups of leaders – the under 35 crowd and the over 70 crowd. In each case, the authors identify the era in which the leaders came of age, and analyze what characteristics define leadership for the two groups. There are some striking similarities – a constant desire to learn, enthusiasm for new challenges, and what Bennis and Thomas identify as “adaptive capacity” – the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and excel.

But there are some differences as well. Geeks – defined as young leaders who understand technology but are not necessarily themselves techies – expect to change the world and are not patient waiting for opportunities to present themselves. Geezers at the same age were building a career and were looking for stability. Loyalty to an employer was expected, and rewards came after long hard work. Geeks prize balance while geezers expected to make sacrifice when it came to family and having “a life” outside of work.

The book is a quick read, and is highly recommended. Had the book been my own copy (I will be buying my own copy shortly ), I’d have marked up every other page. If you’re interested in leadership and the direction leadership will take over the next few years, I would strongly urge you to pick up a copy.

There is an accompanying web site that lets you listen to some of the original interviews with the book’s subjects. Of course, I’d prefer a blog from the authors to see what they have to say since the book’s publication, but that might be asking too much…

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