Millennials often get a bad wrap, on how they should work, act, and be led. However, the misleading factor in this struggle to guide millennials may be our own definition of leading. Millennials aren’t looking for you to be their leader, but for you to be a team
Contrary to a Boomer mindset of vocation and work, Millennials respond much differently to commands and authority. Many Millennials are stepping into the workplace with a deep desire to discover their ideal purpose within their vocation. This is more of a driving factor than six-digit salary. So much so that this generation has paved the way for a new consulting industry to guide companies in how to hire and retain this younger generation.
Experts such as Gabrielle Bosche, founder of Millennial Solutions, are creating a way to help businesses understand why Millenials have been viewed so negatively for so long, and to help equip them with a new way of leadership — one Millennials will respond to. Bosche, who consulted companies such as Microsoft, Honeywell, and Audi Volkswagen’s German leadership team, suggests Millenials don’t want to be bought or sold; they want to be engaged.
So, when many Millennials are coming under the direction of an old school approach to leadership, it can create mixed expectations and unnecessary conflicts for both parties involved. This is why it is a leader’s place is to clear the path to create a seamless transition for younger hires that will make the shift more beneficial for everyone.
If you are willing to develop your leadership, these young people are sure to bring a hunger that will elevate your team. Here are three keys to leading Millennials:
1. Welcome them onto the team. Connect with them. Bring them onto your team and make space for them. Allow them to have a voice. Create a welcoming culture that you practice to uphold daily. An article from Outreach Magazine, "The Millennial Leader: It’s All About Team" by Robert Crosby, reveals a great misunderstanding many leaders have: “Teaming leaders are the kind of leaders millennials respond to the best. But teaming leadership is not just a skill you learn, it is more of an art you develop. While it can be taught in principle, it is only engaged by practice.”
2. Engage conversation that makes them feel they can ask questions. In her TED Talk, "The Needed Adaptability for the Millennial Generation," Gabrielle Bosche says, “Millennials are a generation that is desperate for direction, but afraid to ask for help… We’re the Google generation. We feel like we should know all the answers.” While Millennials may come across like they know everything, they’ll be the first to tell you they don’t. Engage in constant conversation, so they feel any question can be asked and any idea can be presented.
3. Don’t make assumptions. Before assuming every Millennial is entitled, unmotivated, and only driven by self-interest, consciously keep an open mind. Offer their work performance a blank slate before assuming you know how they will work. Avoid categorizing them as being unmotivated, slacking, entitled individuals as Millennials are frequently and unfairly subject to being stereotyped as. When you lead with assumptions, they will be able to read it loud and clear. When we assume the negative, we often break a trust before we’ve even given it the time to be earned.
There is plenty of untapped talent out there among Millennials for leaders who are willing to adapt to. But until we shift in our own leadership methods and habits, how will we ever be ready to allow our nation’s largest and most influential generation to emerge and impact our workplaces?
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of “Framework Leadership.” A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern’s president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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