Part of successful leadership is adapting your leadership style or behaviors to address the qualities and needs of the followers - a component of the highly-effective transformational leadership. The emerging group of workers - who most are calling the "Millennial Generation" - born between 1980 and 2000, are a different breed than the generation before them (Generation X) and the Baby Boomers before them.
Here are the ways in which Millennials differ from their predecessors:
They are Technologically Savvy. Obviously. They grew up with PCs, the Internet, and i-phones. They embrace, rather than resist, new technology (as opposed to Boomers). AND, they are interconnected. Bully an employee and you will end up on eBosswatch, Rate My Boss, or another on-line "evaluation system" - and their 840 facebook friends will instantly know all about it, too.
They Play Well With Others. (Good in teams). Millennials are so networked that they are never truly alone. They can collaborate and aren't afraid to ask others for assistance (as opposed to the do-it-alone, Gen Xers).
They Want the World (and They Want it Now). Millennials are hopeful, and cautiously optimistic. They are "civic-minded" and want to change the world and make it a better place, but they are impatient about it. Millennials grew up volunteering in school and elsewhere, so they are committed to social causes and to righting the world's ills.
They Want Recognition and to Be Taken Seriously. Doted on and empowered by their parents, Millennials want their ideas to be heard. They want to participate in decisionmaking, and they don't believe much in the authority hierarchy or in the idea of having to have "put in time" or "earn your stripes."
They Want Employee-Centered and "Fun" Workplaces. With the tough job market, Millennials are realizing that they need to be creative, flexible, and innovative to support themselves. But, the thought of spending their lives in a traditional corporate environment is seen as a fate worse than death. Google and other cutting-edge organizations realize this and have developed creative, fun, and employee-centered environments to attract and retain the most talented Millennials.
So, how do you manage and lead Millennials?
Take into account their needs. Realize that they are creative and good at multi-tasking, but they need structure. In their creative hubbub, they might get lost without it. Take advantage of their tech-savviness and their ability to work together well.
Importantly, Millennials are idealistic and have a strong sense of what they want their leaders to be. In short, they want their leaders to be heroes (superhero movies are box-office winners with Millennials), who have integrity, and a sense of fairness and concern for employees. Leading the Millennial Generation successfully is going to be the key to success in the near future.
There are a variety of resources and an emerging body of research on Millennials. There is a great deal of attention to Millennials from colleges, libraries, and in the career and recruitment literature because most Millennials are still in school or just emerging into the workplace.
Sujansky & Ferri-Reed "Keeping the Millennials"
Share additional resources!
Follow me on Twitter: