I just asked Siri to search for books on Generation X and leadership. (Granted—Siri searches iBooks which isn’t quite as good at the whole book thing as Amazon. Maybe Alexa would have different results—mental note to test that later.) I was shocked by the results, or more specifically, I was shocked by the lack of results.
Where are the books for and about Generation X leaders? Were they never written? Did we absorb our professional development in other ways? Weren’t we interested in books? I seem to remember buying dozens. At one time, I think the going publishing wisdom was that we were to be the last generation that would be interested in good old ink and paper—and then of course we reinvented publishing for ourselves with the self-designed ebook. Nevertheless, the lack of titles stunned me, since, after all, ebooks on iBooks appeared in the results.
Just for kicks, I tried other searches—Generation X managers, Generation X management, and just plain Generation X—all within iBooks. I found some cultural humor and a few outdated tomes—even one referring to Millennials as “Zoomers.” Of course, there are always new books on leadership hitting the “bestseller” lists. But with four generations currently populating the workplace, there’s a great need for advice more tailored to the unique stage of the target readers’ career. There’s not much advice targeted specifically to us as a group (what is out there looks dated by our generation’s economic upheavals). In addition, there’s not much out there written BY us about our work journeys so far in the form of advice for others like us and those coming through just behind us.
Obviously my search was limited—and on purpose—by our generational nickname. For comparison, I took the same steps with “Baby Boomers.” Although there are few books appearing when this term is combined with “leadership,” “management,” or “at work,” there’s a very wide variety of titles—including books on business, money and career—when the search is simply, “Baby Boomer.” Apparently there’s still a lot to learn about America’s aging population explosion, and you can get plenty of books about that. Would you like to predict what I found when I asked Siri to search for books on “Millennial Leadership?” You’re right: It was a book avalanche beginning with a title by that very name.
Does Generation X truly lack a presence in publishing when it comes to leadership and management books? Or perhaps when we publish, we do not present ourselves as representative of a generation (think of the “generation defining” The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson)? Either way, it was an interesting search experiment.