Here’s the thing: Millennials are already in leadership positions. And the number of Millennials moving into leadership positions over the next ten years is going to grow astronomically. According to the Deloitte global study on Millennials, entrepreneurship is still the preferred path for Gen Y. So what does that mean for organizations that want to be around in 20 years? It’s time to recognize how Gen Y is changing leadership and start adapting to new ways of doing business.
Millennials want to be leaders, but a different type of leader. They’ve seen unprecedented growth in new Internet companies and their quick-moving leadership style reflects that. Given the struggles traditional companies have faced, Millennial leaders are doing things differently. Keep them motivated and committed by giving them the space to create, relate, innovate, and actuate.
Even better? Encourage intrapreneurship in your organization. If you create the right space for Gen Y leaders to act as intrapreneurs, you’ll have a real recipe for success. Give them the chance to own and run their piece of the organization, even the chance to start something new from within. Harness their generation’s natural entrepreneurial spirit. Encourage, recognize and support their energy internally.
Millennials, even more than previous generations, want their careers to have a real impact. Creating intrapreneur programs or simply encouraging it among leaders in general is a great step. Giving your youngest leaders the opportunity to have an impact both inside and outside the company will align with their natural desire to make a difference. Whether you provide those opportunities or not, Millennials are likely to seek them out and create them. Allow them to do so if you want to ensure your leadership pipeline won’t slow down.
It’s important to remember Gen Y leaders value authenticity and inclusiveness above almost anything else. They want to be approachable (no matter what position they hold in an organization), honest, true to themselves, transparent and respectful of others. They want to inspire and motivate the people around them, and it’s important for them to be wholly who they are to do that. They won’t hide the bad and the ugly, they will share those things, along with the good, without hesitation. Traditionally, this hasn’t been the way most organizations have worked. Embrace the change! Gen Y is very community-focused and they feel the more information everyone has, the better off they are. They’ll use that community to help solve problems and open up new ways to fix “bad news”.
Along with authenticity, Millennial leaders thrive on recognition. Not just for themselves; they’ll recognize the people around them quickly and heartily. If you want to develop and keep your young leaders, it’s time to come up with new recognition programs — and relegate once a year performance reviews to the trash heap. Ongoing and immediate feedback, and continuous learning and improvement, is the wave of the future. Millennials want to grow and improve. Robust recognition and feedback systems combined with a customized learning and development programs will give your organization a competitive advantage in the future.
Millennials want to be leaders, but sometimes they lack the experience and capabilities to take on those roles. Provide them with soft skills training that will help them understand themselves better, and improve the impact and influence they have on those around them. Previous generations were content to adopt the “management style” of their predecessors, despite some obvious shortcomings. Gen Y won’t be content doing the same if they don’t see an alignment with their vision and values. Give them the practical training and experience that allows them to put their newfound skills into practice immediately.
This is not an exhaustive list of the traits, characteristics and important considerations for Millennial leaders, but I hope you’ve found it a useful starting point for discussion in your organization.
If you’d like to read the rest of the series, start here and you can read it in order.
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