“…which means they’ll quit their job if you don’t treat them right.”
Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning a lot more about the Millennial Generation (Gen-Y). This is the generation after Generation X, and they seem to be quite the opposite. Where the Gen X group is highly independent, even off-standish, the millennial group is all about social interaction and keeping their options open. They bond through virtual and real interactions with each other on a much greater level than most of the generation before them (just think Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc).
At a recent USC Networking Day event Morley Winograd told us the Millennials are a clever group. They tend to be confident, even self-centered, and possess a great drive for achievement. In a work environment, decisions require consensus and they want to be recognized for their abilities. They also know that they can get that recognition in other places, which means they’ll quit their job if you don’t treat them right. So how do you lead such a group?
If your form of leadership is to dictate and hold people accountable to their job description, you may find that the Millennials don’t want to work for you. They prefer an open structure in order to come and go as they please, work the hours that they want to work, socialize with their friends, peers and colleagues, and keep running their busy personal lives while they’re on the job. This may sound like a cushy job to most of us but to the Millennials their job and their personal lives are the same thing.
Given that I practice servant leadership, I’m a bit biased as to why this form of leadership is ideal for the millennial group (not to mention that it has been working for the past four years). While plenty of forms of leadership exist, most leaders demonstrate hard and fast rules for how things must be done. The main premise of servant leadership is to empower others to do their best work, which is exactly what this new generation wants. Here’s the trick: when you empower somebody to do their best work that means letting them do their job in the most effective manner for them.
With the Millennials that are on my team I have found that by giving them a lot of freedom I get a lot of results. It truly doesn’t matter to me what time of day they work as long as the work gets done. Instead of demanding a 9 to 5 work schedule and only getting the minimum number of hours out of my team, they typically work harder out of their own free will and ambition. If I were to use any other form of leadership and dictate how they work I wouldn’t be tapping into their true potential.
Another reason servant leadership is a strong fit for the millennial group is because they prefer to make decisions by consensus. As a leader you always have the ability and right to make final decisions. As a servant leader, you empower your team to make the decision with your guidance and oversight. If your team is made up of Millennials then you’ll be giving them exactly what they want while leveraging their strong sense of social responsibility. Your only challenge then is to make sure their decisions are sound and match your vision.
Do you have Millennials on your team? Let me know how you are working with them, to realize your entire company’s full potential.
Why Servant Leadership is Ideal For the Millennial Generation