Addressing the Generation Gap

CMSAF James Cody and Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Alston, command senior enlisted leader of US Strategic Command, discussed the “generation gap” and its impact on relationships between leadership and airmen during the Global Strike Challenge 2014 symposium on Nov. 5. “We have to bridge this generation gap in order to move forward in the future,” Cody said. Alston agreed. “We have to understand that we are not dealing with the airmen of yesterday, but with the airmen of today,” he said. “We have to transform our leadership abilities to reflect that and be able to reach them.” Both acknowledged that leadership must work harder to understand the needs of individual enlisted airmen. “In order to be a profound leader, you have to understand the individuals that you’re leading,” Alston said. “The generation you’re dealing with today is a generation that has a foundation of being inquisitive. They’re not being inquisitive for the purpose of questioning your authority, but to be able to better understand the total meaning of the orders or direction you’ve given them. You have to adapt to that to remain an effective leader.” Cody said that relationships must be “built on mutual trust and respect” for the good of the entire Air Force.