Millennial Leadership: Stop Dissing the Future Leaders of the World
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Chances are pretty high that if you’re not one, you either work with — or for — a Millennial. Often misunderstood (not unlike generations before it), Millennials are an intriguing bunch.
This month, we have the good fortune to share the insights of Andy Hopson, who not only manages Millennials, but also prepares them for leadership roles.
By Andy Hopson, Guest Contributor
It seems to be human nature for older generations to dismiss the ones that follow. The cause may be a reluctance to change the way things have always been; or perhaps it’s a realization that nature is forcing a passing along of the mantle of power and decision making.
Every day 10,000 Baby Boomers retire. That rate will continue for the next 15 years. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2030 when all members of the Baby Boom generation have reached the age of 65, 18 percent of the nation will be at least that age. Baby Boomers should stop complaining and start preparing.
There have been more studies conducted and articles written about Millennials (born between 1980 and 1998) than any other cohort. This is understandable considering the 80 million Millennials among us now compose the largest sector of the U.S. population. By 2020 they will comprise the majority of our workforce. And in the course of their lifetimes they will spend $10 trillion.
Their leadership skills, innovations and likes and dislikes will have a huge impact on the focus of business and politics, the values we espouse and channels through which we gain information.
Defining Characteristics of Millennial Leaders
People-Centered Leadership — Millennials place a premium on transparency, and they thrive in collaborative work environments. They expect to be empowered and they want to empower others. Gone are the days when the boss retreats to his corner office sending out missives from behind closed doors. Walls are literally being torn down. Millennials demand that leaders roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side with their employees.
A 2014 study by Virtuali found that 70 percent of Millennials identify themselves as leaders in their organizations, although fewer than half said they had formal management roles. Sixty-three percent of Millennials want to be “transformational leaders who inspire others.” According to the Pew Research Center, the primary motivation to be leaders is to empower others to succeed.
“… you have the makings of the strongest generation of leaders in the world's history.”
A Social Conscience — Millennials expect their employers to stand for something. Money and profiteering is no longer a rallying cry for this generation. There is an expectation that companies should have a sense of responsibility about the world around them. This includes taking care of the environment, helping the poor and less fortunate, treating animals humanely and preserving our national treasures.
The 2016 Deloitte Millennials Survey found that 56 percent of millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.” This increases to 61 percent among those in senior positions. Most millennials have no problem standing their ground when asked to do something that conflicts with their personal values.
An Equal Playing Field — Millennials are more color and gender blind than any previous generation. They will be the first truly multicultural cohort. Fifty-one percent will not be Caucasian. They have an expectation that everyone in the workforce be treated equally, regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. According to the McKinsey/Lean In study, “Employees on diverse and inclusive teams put in more effort, stay longer and demonstrate more commitment.”
Millennials Will Be Great Leaders
The defining characteristics of Millennials are the attributes that make them outstanding leaders — collaboration and empowerment, a social conscience, the self-confidence to take on leadership roles and a strong desire to create a diverse and equal playing field. Add to this an inherent entrepreneurial spirit powered by technological know-how and you have the makings of the strongest generation of leaders in the world's history.
The Price of Failure Is Huge
Whatever your interest — employer, marketer, communicator, elected official — the price of failure to understand and embrace the demands of the emerging generation of Millennials is huge. According to Deloitte, two-thirds of Millennials are ready to leave their current job if their employer doesn’t meet their expectations. This apparent lack of traditional loyalty is driven at least in part by the fact that Millennials already view themselves as leaders, and they aren’t willing to compromise.
Imagine what the world will look like in a few short years when Millennials have fully taken charge. Change is in the air.
“Two-thirds of Millennials are ready to leave their current job if their employer doesn’t meet their expectations.”
About the Author: Andy Hopson is Executive Director of The Agency™, an auxiliary of the University of Florida that specializes in marketing to Millennials. The Agency recently launched MAVY™, a virtual community of Millennials. Members provide advertisers insights about products, concepts and ideas by engaging in discussion forums, quizzes, mobile missions and games. Follow Andy Hopson on Twitter and LinkedIn.