Those I encounter in my work with leaders don’t seem quite as challenging as the research and blogosphere would have us believe. Perhaps it is a willingness to express their opinions that has fostered a reputation.
Recently I discovered some interesting data and insights from Bates Communications and Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last. Here is a brief summary that I am framing as better ways to lead millennials.
According to Bates’ research, millennials value authenticity, integrity, vision, confidence, and practical wisdom as the top five qualities they wish to see in leadership. What they tend to actually get from their boss is authenticity, confidence, integrity, concern, and vision. It appears that one way to lead better is master the top three qualities of authenticity, integrity, and vision. The research suggests there is work to be done.
Sinek suggests that leaders should be more intentional about teaching leadership. The organizations I work with to create leadership training initiatives focus heavily on the human skills of self-awareness, listening, and communication. Millennials respond well to any opportunities to learn how to lead better.
He also emphasizes the importance of teaching how to give and receive feedback. Again, I can offer evidence of how valuable this type of training can be. Most leaders are not very skilled in this area and millennials crave feedback in higher proportions than previous generations. Brushing up on this skill could go a long way to improving how you lead every demographic group.
Sinek’s work points out the obvious skills millennials have with social media and understanding marketing and branding. These can be leveraged in any organization, regardless of size. They don’t hide their feelings about what is happening so use that candor to make improvements.
Provide millennials with good mentors and surround them with leaders who model great self-awareness and who possess the qualities mentioned earlier.
Allow millennials to fall rather than fail. Be the leader who provides opportunities for millennials to try things and fall. Don’t give them too much leverage so that failure dooms their career or permanently damages the company.
One common sense way to think about leading millennials is to reflect on what all of us wish for at work – that our boss would give us a chance.