With over 75 billion Millennials integrating themselves into the workforce the reality of leading this generation is one that cannot be ignored. The real question is if we choose not to ignore the impact that this generation will have in the next 10 years then how do we lead them? What do we need to know in order to empower this generation born into the innovative world of technology? How as current leaders do we maximize our own wisdom to leverage the talents that characterize the Millennial movement in this country?
Before I continue, I want you to think back to when you first graduated college, entered the workforce, found your first real job, and what desires motivated you? The same thirst for finding your passion, building a career and proving your worth exist today. At the heart of this transformation that will overtake the workforce like a tsunami are the same motivations that you and I held. But the outward focus is a stark contrast to what we experienced.
The intrinsic desire to contribute to something larger than ourselves. To foster support for our own unique talents. The veracity by which we took on each challenge with youthful exuberance is only exacerbated with Millennials by the failure to truly comprehend the psychology of today’s young adults.
There exist tensions within the world both large and small that have created a widening gap between this generation and those who have come before them. Paralyzing ideologies unwilling to adapt in an evolving world by leaders stuck in their traditional views.
Dishearten organizations in the corporate landscape puzzled by the lack of interest to come and work for them. Small business owners unable to bridge the gap of connectedness with the emerging generation. Displaced frustrations pointed at Millennials as being arrogant, self-serving, disinterested, lacking loyalty and the all too familiar “entitlement stigma.”
I am here to tell you that this does not define this generation. In fact the opposite holds true. Millennials are more interested in social, political and economic issues than prior generations. They have a deep desire to change the world. A voracious appetite for knowledge and innovation. The Millennial who resides within the workforce today is not drawn to money as the primary aim. Neither are they convinced that the traditional views held by their parents are the path most suitable for them.
Equally, as leaders we must let go of our own narrow mindedness about social media to open ourselves up to the richness of what Millennials have to offer by exploiting the various social media platforms as advancing social movements that go far beyond pictures, birthday wishes, and mindless post.
More and more Millennials are finding their way to the Entrepreneurial pool believing that being in business for themselves offers the greatest opportunity of finding success. Preserving their passions. Creating sustainable change. And offsetting the outdated leadership paradigms that want to pigeon-hole these young purveyors of social, political and economic activism.
Unlike the generations before, those which now hold all the power, Millennials are not willing to slave away at a 9 to 5 job in hopes of catching a break. The creative genius that is the byproduct of growing up in an age of technological information begs for far more.
This generation is fearless. Poised to do great things based upon their resolve for blazing new paths of success. In a world where the challenges and opportunities are great we need them to be bold, courageous and unabashed in accomplishing their chief aim.
Scott Chisholm, in his post 10 Keys for Engaging & Empowering Millennials, writes:
“73% of Millennials surveyed said they had raised money for a nonprofit. 84% said they would gladly continue to raise money or work with a nonprofit.” He continues later in the article by adding, “Let Millennials define their own ‘Why’ as means of providing a vehicle for Millennials to tell their own story as your larger organizational story.”
What is reflected by these statistics is the need to feel empowered to create change. No one wants to get lost in becoming a faceless employee identification number in the cog of big business. Organizations need to allow Millennials to bring their story into the corporate landscape. Give them a platform for furthering their creative ideas. Do not look upon this as a waste of time but rather the much needed element of attraction and retention.
Allowing this generation to ask questions is imperative to empowering their voice. Companies cannot silence the contributions of this generation. Nor can they afford to invest the fullness of their efforts to converting them to traditional thinking. Let go of the old and embrace the new. This is the key to blending the characteristics of old and new into a cohesive culture.
Josh Bersin, Contributor to Forbes Magazine, writes: “Millennials are turning leadership on its head because they want leadership but they want it their way.” He cites the leadership challenge to having grown up in a period of recession watching their parents hit by downsizing and layoffs. He agrees and share my same views – to build future leaders you must give them the freedom to be innovative, build, and create new models of leadership.
The message to all of us is that we cannot move forward if we are continually looking back for direction.
The responsibility current leaders share is to create leadership opportunities at all levels of the organizations. Develop project teams where Millennials feel empowered to contribute. Create transparency in the organization to gain their trust and confidence. If your Millennial employee feels like they cannot trust you then they will make a run for the exit door. They believe beyond question that there exist opportunities, so settling is never a consideration.
In fact, they are prepared – even equipped – to take risks never before imagined just to keep from being chained to an environment that stifles the creative intelligence that they value above all else. Helping others is another variable. When the doors are closed to doing something that helps another, you will lose top talent.
Millennials as a whole remain mutually invested in the growth of others at the same rate of growing themselves. Personal development is at an all-time high. Failing to nurture the skills, talents, passions, intelligence, creativity, and leadership of this generation will undermine the growth of your company. In the years to come you will be searching for highly regarded top-talent but it won’t be found. You would have missed the opportunity because your company was slow to change its leadership style.
The truth that cannot be ignored is the need for today’s leaders to reset their priorities and attitudes on leadership to include the Millennial generation – meeting them where they are currently. Instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, leaders of businesses and major organizations must be fluid in adapting to this generation. Creating opportunities for them to step into our place in the next 7 to 10 years.
Not doing our part to grow our future leaders will only significantly increase the shortfalls predicated on experience that will potentially create future leaders ill-prepared to face the global economic, political and social issues.
What we do in this moment is far more important than it may seem. Too great is the burden to empower this generation and do so, by creating environments for them to truly succeed. Let go of the misguided stigmas. Open your eyes to what this generation really stands for and is capable of doing. This is the challenge posed to the leaders of today.
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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 of this generation.
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.