by Jeff Orr, MBA, MS Leadership, Generational Leadership Expert and Business Consultant
I was talking to Gen-X business owner the other day and was telling him of a recent talk I did on Millennial Leadership. He responded in a cynical tone with, “Is there such a thing?”
Of course, there is. But his response revealed what I am facing as I speak to organizations on this topic. There is a huge bias lumping everyone between the ages of 24 and 35 into one stereotypical group. You have no doubt heard reports in the media on how this group is unreliable, entitled, uncommitted, etc., etc. You probably have experienced some of these behaviors with this group yourself. But this bias is not accurate and the consequences to your business or organization could be devastating by accepting the bias at face value.
In every generation there are those who are different than the larger group. This is especially significant for organizations to realize as there is an incredible resource sitting in their workforce right now. They are leaders. Millennial leaders. And they are different from their peers. As I travel, talk to, and work with these young leaders, I find that they are focused, driven, hardworking, creative, optimistic, and full of passion. Who wouldn’t want an employee like that? They are quick-minded and restless – not because they have hyper-active ADHD, but because that is the environment my generation created and raised them in. They want to be engaged by their leaders and make a real impact in the organization relatively quickly upon hire.
So, what are you doing to engage them? What are you doing to identify them as up and coming leaders?
It may have taken you three to five years to be engaged in leadership, but this generation of leaders expects it in one to two years. You need to engage them where they are at with this expectation or you will lose them to your competitor who will engage them.
Here are three quick ideas to engage your Millennial leaders:
- Trust them. One of the most common frustrations I hear among these young leaders is that they are given a job to do and then their boss micro-manages the life right out of it. You hired them to do a job. Give them a chance to do it. Trust them to not only figure it out, but offer them the resources to help along the way (hint: you taking over the job is not “resourcing” them).
- Communicate expectations. No one can meet your expectations for job performance if they don’t know what those expectations are. Be clear. Have the conversation with your young leader and get their input.
- Start with the end first. Research is showing that Millennials respond better to knowing the outcome first, rather than talking about all the steps that need to be done to get to the outcome. They will see the steps after they fully grasp the vision and purpose. Start there and work backwards. Get their ideas as well. Chances are really, really good that they will have ideas to accomplish the goal that you have not considered.
Millennial leaders are your best resource in your organization that are just waiting for you to develop them and give them a chance to prove themselves. You remember that feeling, don’t you? Will they do the job exactly the way you would? No. But maybe that’s a better thing.
Jeff Orr, a TEDx speaker and expert in Generational Leadership, coaches’ executives, business owners, and individuals with the tools and skills to lead more effectively, build high-performing teams, and experience true success in their careers and personal lives. As a dynamic and energizing keynote speaker and corporate trainer to Fortune 500 companies, Jeff has helped thousands grow in their leadership to impact their organizations and communities. Jeff engages his audience through humor, real world stories, and a genuine care for the people he speaks to, helping them to build lasting success internally and externally. He is also author of the highly acclaimed book, Succeed In The New Normal. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers his clients to experience internal growth, which then translates into sustainable external success.