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Leading Millennials: How Generational Cohort Membership and Lifespan Development Levels Influence Implicit Leadership Prototypes and Anti-Prototypes

Benjamin John Brachle, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The rising costs of recruiting and hiring workers (Dooney, 2015; Society for Human Resource Management, 2017) and the seismic shift of age demographics in the United States (Gronbach & Moye, 2017) has created much stir around the concept of generational cohorts (Graen & Grace, 2014; E. Ng, Lyons, & Schweitzer, 2012; Sujansky & Ferri-Reed, 2009; Winograd & Hais, 2011). Although much has been done by researchers and practitioners alike to attempt a better understanding of each generational group’s leadership preferences (Bodenhausen & Curtis, 2016; Kraus, 2017; Taylor & Stein, 2014; VanMeter, Grisaffe, Chonko, & Roberts, 2013), confusing and contradictory results has attracted much criticism (Deal, Altman, & Rogelberg, 2010). This critique has inspired efforts to look at the concept of leadership and followership preference through an alternative lifespan developmental lens (Costanza & Finkelstein, 2015; Rudolph, Rauvola, & Zacher, 2018; Zacher, 2015). Because leadership influences are inherently social influences, a person’s overall lifespan development level may potentially provide a deeper perspicacity of the phenomenon than examining it from the more conventional generational cohort perspective. This study looked to uncover what we are missing as a society when we look at leadership solely from a generational cohort perspective. Hence, the purpose of this study was to better understand how a person’s generational cohort membership or lifespan developmental level influences their perception of leadership by relating a person’s generational cohort membership and psychosocial development level to the implicit leadership prototypes and anti-prototypes they create. Additionally, a dominance analysis was used to uncover the relative importance of these predictors on implicit leadership theories. The findings of the study are reported, and key implications are identified.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Brachle, Benjamin John, "Leading Millennials: How Generational Cohort Membership and Lifespan Development Levels Influence Implicit Leadership Prototypes and Anti-Prototypes" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28028462.