by Brad Lomenick
A good friend asked me the other day my thoughts on how to lead the 20-somethings on his staff. This is a question I’m asked quite often, whether about 20-somethings or more generally the millennial generation, primarily those born after 1982 and now firmly entrenched in the workforce. We gather thousands of leaders who fit this category on an annual basis at our Catalyst leadership events all over the country, and most of our Catalyst staff are under the age of 30.
I have to admit, I don’t always get this right. As a 100 percent Gen X’er, my tendency is to lean away from several of these points, and lead how I’ve been led over the years by Boomers and Busters. But I’m working on it.
So with that said, here you go, a few thoughts on leading Millenials:
1. Give them freedom with their schedule. I’ll admit, this one is tough for me.
2. Provide them projects, not a career. Career is just not the same anymore. They desire options. Just like free agents.
3. Create a family environment. Work, family and social are all intertwined, so make sure the work environment is experiential and family oriented. Everything is connected.
4. Cause is important. Tie in compassion and justice to the “normal.” Causes and opportunities to give back are important.
5. Embrace social media. It’s here to stay.
6. They are more tech savvy than any other generation ever. Technology is the norm. XBOX, iPhones, laptops, iPads are just normal. If you want a response, text first, then call. Or DM first. Or send a Facebook message. Not anti calls, though.
7. Lead each person uniquely. Don’t create standards or rules that apply to everyone. Customize your approach. (I’ll admit, this one is difficult too!)
8. Make authenticity and honesty the standard for your corporate culture. Millenials are cynical at their core, and don’t trust someone just because they are in charge.
9. Millenials are not as interested in “climbing the corporate ladder.” Instead, they are more concerned about making a difference and leaving their mark.
10. Give them opportunities early with major responsibility. They don’t want to wait their turn. They want to make a difference now. And they will find an outlet for influence and responsibility somewhere else if you don’t give it to them. Empower them early and often.
11. All about the larger win, not the personal small gain. Young leaders in general have an abundance mentality instead of scarcity mentality.
12. Partnering and collaboration are important. They’re not interested in drawing lines. Collaboration is the new currency, along with generosity.
13. They’re not about working for a personality. They’re not interested in laboring long hours to build a temporal kingdom for one person. But will work their guts out for a cause and vision bigger than themselves.
14. They deeply desire mentoring, learning and discipleship. Many older leaders think Millenials aren’t interested in generational wisdom transfer. Not true at all. Younger leaders are hungry for mentoring and discipleship, so build it into your organizational environment.
15. Coach them and encourage them. They want to gain wisdom through experience. Come alongside them, don’t just tell them what to do.
16. Create opportunities for quality time—individually and corporately. They want to be led by example, and not just by words.
17. Hold them accountable. They want to be held accountable by those who are living it out. Measure them and give them constant feedback.
18. They’ve been exposed to just about everything, so the sky is the limit in their minds. Older leaders have to understand younger leaders have a much broader and global perspective, which makes wowing Millenials much more difficult.
19. Recognize their values, not just their strengths. It ain’t just about the skillz, baby. Don’t use them without truly knowing them.
20. Provide a system that creates stability. Clear expectations with the freedom to succeed, and providing stability on the emotional, financial, and organizational side.
This leadership content and more can be found in Brad Lomenick’s upcoming leadership book, “The Catalyst Leader,” from Thomas Nelson Publishers, releasing April 16, 2013. https://CatalystLeader.com. Preorder here: https://tinyurl.com/cbx9uru.
Brad Lomenick is president and lead visionary of Catalyst, one of America’s most influential leadership movements. Follow Brad on Twitter @bradlomenick and read more of his leadership thoughts at https://BradLomenick.com.