“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” —Mother Teresa
This quote epitomizes the crossroads that our modern leaders face. More importantly it poses the leadership challenge that all leaders should embrace. The world is changing and so too is business, politics, economics, and the workforce. Without the ability to remain fluid adapting to these changes leaders will quickly lose their influence.
Leaders must recognize the burden to create meaningful change. To be that stone that is cast creating the ripple effect that will transform the younger generation. – Robert Anthony Olszak
Recent research very clearly articulates the changes cast upon leadership by Millennials. This generation taking over the workforce is voracious for transparent, trusting, and engaging leadership. In fact, Millennials are not wasting anytime integrating themselves into leadership roles. Based upon a Deloitte Global Millennial Research Report, 50% of all those surveyed already hold leadership roles. And 41% of all those have 4 or more direct reports.
Does this create an obvious tension between traditional leadership roles and the Millennial mindset? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Companies are fighting an internal gap created by this alienation of the Millennial Shift in leadership roles. To not only survive but thrive, today’s leaders need to do the following starting today:
Create Leadership Opportunities: Organizations need to level the playing field so that new opportunities are created for Millennials to assume leadership roles. Despite the fact that 50% are in current leadership roles, the same research performed by Deloitte confirms many are not ready to lead. Leaders need to step-up and step-out of their offices to engage Millennials in their workspace.
Creating opportunities is not enough. Leaders are required to take ownership of those opportunities continually investing in their younger leaders. Get creative. Expand opportunities at all levels of the organization. Do not stick to the concept of “upward mobility” but create leadership roles by forming project teams, smaller work groups, more departmental leadership roles and in the words of Deloitte, “Build a corporate lattice not a corporate ladder.”
Be Inclusive: As I stated previously, the place for leaders is not tucked away behind a desk punching a keyboard. Large corporations need to slow the email train that drives communication overload to enable their leaders to be more involved. Let us return to face-to-face engagement where we practice inclusiveness. Too many leaders – due to company demands – are pinned to their office feeding the perception that they are just don’t care.
After 23 years in the high-stakes arena of corporate big business, time is not something that is a resources for our modern leaders. Conference calls, emails, status reports, new project implementations, and the noise from corporate headquarters are killing the influence of leaders. Cast out the suspicions that breed mistrust by leaders who are practicing exclusivity by default as a time management strategy. Millennials want to be included – so include them.
Stop Micro-managing: Break down barriers to create freedom for innovation, creativity and intelligence to flourish. Embrace the dynamic roles that Millennials flock to where the value of projects weigh more heavily than the defined roles. Leading in the new world means giving trust to build autonomy at an accelerated rate, unlike anything we have ever seen.
Leaders should invest in relationships over positional power. Titles carry little value with this emerging generation. Stop relying on titles to garnish respect. Earn their respect through action. Blow the lid off this place by going against the grain – let go of traditional methods of task management. Give direction, give freedom, give respect and watch your younger workers run with it. The art of influence rest not in control but in lack of control.
Mentor More: Mentoring needs to become part of the leader arsenal. Developing leaders for the future requires that today’s leaders be giving with their wisdom and experience. The value of mentoring goes well beyond coachable moments. It nurtures the intimacy and trust that Millennials respond to.
Leaders cannot expect young workers to enter the workforce with all the prerequisite knowledge to lead into the future. Academic intelligence and technological acumen do not guarantee the necessary skillset to transition into leadership roles. Bridging the gap relies on leaders capable of mentoring with humility and a servant heart.
Build A Legacy: The greatest story of true leadership is the legacy that each leader leaves behind. Passing the torch to the next Great Generation to inspire, empower, and instill a resilient spirit is necessary to tackling head-on the challenges that exist today. But developing young leaders with strength of character will equip them to triumph over the future challenges. This will define their own legacy left upon the world.
Leaders today need to remain visionary. Visionary to lead with conviction predicated on integrity and ethics. We cannot be tempted to compromise our values with so many watching intently to every move we make. One of the greatest lessons any leader can impart upon the next flock of leaders is the ability to preserve their character by an undeniable commitment to doing what is right, even when it is not popular.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ronald Reagan
Today is the day when leaders need to elevate the standards of leadership not to advance their own ambitions but to grow our future leaders. Seek to lead with inspiration by tapping into the genius of the Millennial Generation that thirst to serve others. Be the catalyst for positive change by remaining open-minded to the needs of others, their evolving values, and the tapestry that is the lifestyle focused on making the world a better place.
We all need to challenge ourselves to embrace the Millennial Shift by adapting ourselves to it in order to advance the influence of leadership for the future.
Photo by Dollar Photo Club
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To learn more about Robert Anthony Olszak’s upcoming book, please visit www.balcony7.com
Robert Anthony Olszak is a prolific speaker, author and is an expert in leadership. His research and involvement with Millennials has also made him a trusted source for Millennial issues; raising awareness as the voice to this generation. He continually writes editorial articles for multiple publications on Millennials, leadership, business ethics, entrepreneurship, personal development and spiritual formation.
Grace Covenant Consulting is a full service management and business solutions firm that specializes in helping all businesses provide sustainable strategic plans navigating real world problems. They also specialize in technical writing providing entrepreneurs with business forecasting for continued growth, business plans, employee handbooks and drafting of policy and procedure.