Millennials and Leadership

Millennials & LeadershipIn this episode of the Let’s Talk Leadership podcast, I talk about the age demographic described as the Millennials or Gen Y, those born between – roughly – the mid 1980s and early 2000s.

Shel’s Book Dedication and Millennials Chapter

In his new book, Lethal Generosity: Contextual Technology and the Competitive Edge, which I reviewed in a blog post last week, Shel Israel devotes a whole chapter to the Millennials, under the title “Why Millennials Matter”. Shel has also dedicated the book to the Millennials, with the words

To the Millennials: They’re the best hope we have.

And in the Introduction, he writes, “…the fact remains, regardless of what business you are in, Millennials matter to your future.”


Forbes Article

In the podcast I refer also to an article from a couple of years ago, but still very relevant, especially for those of us interested in issues and challenges for leadership.

Forbes: Millennials Will Soon Rule The World: But How Will They Lead? by Josh Bersin

The author writes:

In the last few years there has been a lot of research on Millennials and how they’re different. But a new topic has now come up in many of my conversations with HR and business executives: What is their leadership style and how will they lead? The answer to this question is important. Your ability to attract, develop, and retain young leaders will make or break your company in the coming years.

From a study of Millennials, the following key findings are listed (and explained in the article):

  1. Millennials want leadership and they want it their way
  2. Millennials know they’re not ready for leadership, but want it anyway
  3. Millennials value an open, transparent, inclusive leadership style
  4. Millennials demand career growth and lots of it
  5. Millennials thrive on fairness and performance-based appraisal, not tenure
  6. Millennials are comfortable with less role clarity and less of a manager-led career
  7. Millennials thrive on innovation and change

Leading intergenerational workforces

With Millennials already in leadership positions, there is a whole lot of learning to be done by all of us, in whatever age group, for us to establish and maintain effective leadership.

A key factor in this is that the Millennials are the first truly digital native generation and that affects not just their private lives but the way workplaces work – or don’t.

The mobile device is key. Shel Israel writes:

For business strategists, the important point is that you should consider the mobile devices as an essential, omnipresent part of who the Millennials are – as shoppers or employees. Take a smartphone away from an older individual and it will be inconvenient, but she will work around it; remove it from a Millennial and he will not only feel untethered, but he also may not have any experience solving a problem in any other way.” (Lethal Generosity, p 27)

We have a lot to learn from each other.

I work and socialize with a lot of Millennials and I’m optimistic.


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Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from Coachville.com and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

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