Leadership Skills: 6 Tips For Leading Millennials

Posted by Patrick Lynch on February 1, 2016
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leadership-skills-6-tips-for-leading-millennialsMolding an organization’s message and methods to those being led is one of the fundamental traits of effective leadership. As millennials comprise an increasing percentage of the workplace, it is vital to ensure your leadership style responds to their unique perspectives and characteristics. Likewise, in a global business environment, the Millennial will encounter and challenge the more traditional views of leaders in other cultures. They will also provide invaluable benefits to other generations because of their unique worldview.

Especially in larger companies that have a number of Baby Boomers in top leadership positions, this contrast with millennials has created a great deal of discussion and study. There are an estimated 75 million of these future leaders who were born between 1977 and 1998. In fact, a number of millennials are already in substantial leadership positions, and a large number have founded their own companies.

Brought up by super supportive parents, many millennials have high self-esteem and expectations of success. They tend to have less patience concerning the process of “moving up the ladder” and may exhibit impatience with more traditional business processes.

If you aren't currently leading members of this generation, in all probability you soon will be. Here are a few tips you can use to engage and energize millennials at your organization:

While money is important; purpose is essential. You will find millennials expect to do well financially but they look beyond that to demand purpose in their work and careers. Ensure that you address the value of their contribution to some significant larger purpose. What types of higher purposes? Helping contribute to clean air, clean water, and helping women achieve equal pay for equal work are just a few.

Learning is a two-way street. The simple reality is that the progress in technology and communications in the past two generations is transformative. Millennials view technology and social media as an extension of their personal lives, not simply a business tool. Take time to collaborate with your millennials on how to incorporate their skills and insights in this area into your way of getting things done.

Flexibility is expected and appreciated. If something is expected to be done just because “that is the company way”, expect it to be challenged as “old school.” The parents of this generation were flexible with their children, and millennials have an expectation of being allowed this same flexibility in schedules and work environments. The good news is they will respond to leadership that shows a willingness to put the individual ahead of the inflexible rule.

Offer opportunities for formal training While millennials are more likely to have degrees of higher education, employers have been less likely to provide formal training on-the-job. Managers can get greater outcomes from millennial employees through formal training, not only in hard skills but also in soft skills.

Millennial thrive on challenge and change. Boring is bad. Millennials seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What’s happening next is their mantra. Use this characteristic as a way to boost productivity by providing your millennial employee with a variety of engaging assignments. 

Capitalize on the millennial’s affinity for networking. Millennials enjoy networking. And why shouldn't they. While Generation X and Baby Boomers first experience with networking probably came through writing a pen pal from camp, millennials started out with MySpace and Facebook. They know and enjoy networking around the world electronically which can be beneficial to your organization. 

Provide a life-work balanced workplace. Millennials are used to cramming their lives with multiple activities. They may play on sports teams, volunteer for multiple causes, spend time as fans at company sports leagues, and spend lots of time with family and friends. This generation will expect flexibility in their schedules to accommodate these pastimes but in return will give you their all when they are on-the-job.

While Millennials do have some unique characteristics, like every generation before them, they will respond to effective leadership that provides a challenging and rewarding work environment. If you take the time to understand, respect, and utilize the unique characteristics of your millennial employee you will find that their knowledge and energy will help your organization succeed. Looking to increase your leadership skills check out our eBook, 4 Critical Aspects of Leading Cross-Cultural Teams Remotely, and don't miss out on Thunderbird's new Transformational Global Leadership Journey. 

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Topics: leadership

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