There really is no way of getting around it. Sooner or later companies are going to have to embrace millennial leaders. After all, the ones that came before are going to keep retiring. Even before that happens, the old guard going to start losing touch with what an ever-growing group of customers wants, needs and pays attention to.
The good news? Millennials actually make some surprisingly good leaders. They have some vital attributes which make them perfectly suited to the world as it exists today. Here we’ll explore some of their strongest attributes.
They Are Tech-Savvy
The biggest changes to our modern economy are coming from the tech sector. Both offline and online there are a huge number of innovations taking place which are sending earthquakes through the economic landscape.
To succeed companies therefore need people who want to embrace the winner technologies (while avoiding those which flunk out.) That requires a certain awareness of where we are now technologically as well as where we’re going.
What will happen to the online space? How will the shopping of the future work? What will the ramifications of having a machine intelligence in our pocket be? All these questions are ones that millennials are in a better position to answer than previous generations.
Millennials Care About Corporate Activism
Millennials don’t just want jobs. They want what they do to mean something. They want the companies they work for to stand for something. The interesting thing is, it isn’t just millennials that are experiencing this change in perspective. The populace at large also expects companies to take a more activist approach and a stand on important aspects of modern society.
This means that the way millennials are going to approach public relations and the way the public at large expects them to are aligning. In this way, companies can make sure that they boost the loyalty and enthusiasm of those of their customers that buy the lion’s share of their products – their most ardent fans.
They Are More Flexible
Yes, of course young people are more flexible than the old guard. That has always been true and will remain so. Young people have a higher degree of fluid intelligence, which makes it easier for them to adapt to changes.
But that’s not the whole picture. The millennial generation has on average done a far wider selection of jobs than former generations. They are more likely to try new avenues and job from one career to another.
And though critics try to paint this as a drawback of this group, the truth is that this culture of trying many different things means that millennials are more flexible and are capable of seeing the same problem from more sides.
This adaptability will suit them well when they’re in leadership positions.
They Have a More Fluid Understanding of Ownership
In the past, you either owned something or you did not. This was true of cars, houses, furniture and tools. In the last decade or so that understanding has been shifting. The economy has become one where ownership is shared and where you only use a product or a property when you’re actually using it.
This way of thinking has already changed how companies work. There are companies, for example, which are entirely located in co-working spaces.
The thing is, this is only the beginning. A lot more products and services can be licensed on a per-use basis. Millennials, with their more fungible understanding of products are in a better position to take advantage of this continued growth.
They Have Less Respect for Hierarchy
Though it might not always be good for people lower down to have little respect for how a hierarchy works, when the people at the top have this mindset that offers all sorts of opportunities.
- Quicker innovation. As people lower down are often younger, leaders who are willing to listen to them will often have a better insight in which direction the market is heading.
- Nimble reaction. A flatter hierarchy is generally quicker to embrace new ideas and new ways or working together.
- Greater meritocracy. When bosses interact with people of all levels, they are more quickly pick realize who the rising stars are and can take more actions to promote these people into positions of influence.
- Higher engagement. We all want to be listened to. Therefore, bosses who do so are going to have a more engaged and loyal workforce to back them up.
They Understand Corporate Culture
A company is more than the sum of its parts. Hiring the biggest stars and putting them into your company isn’t necessarily enough. It’s also about how well they work together and collaborate.
Millennials respect this. They understand that it is important that a company hires people not just based on how good they are as individuals but also based on how well they fit into the atmosphere which we’ve got in the places we work.
This type of hiring makes sure that we avoid the types of situation where the inappropriate behaviour of some undermines the enjoyment and satisfaction that everybody else gets from working in a company.
They Understand We’re Not Just Robots
In previous decades work was considered a place where you went, did what you were supposed to and left again. You didn’t show your weaknesses, your personality or go there to have fun. More recently, we’ve come to realise how counterproductive this perspective is. The truth is, the happier and more adjusted our work force is and the more they feel like they’re part of a family, the better they do.
Millennials have been raised in this new culture and appreciate the usefulness of having spaces where people can relax, as well as the importance of letting people bond and form strong relationships. In this way, they are able to get a more productive workforce as well as make sure turnover stays as low as it can in this modern work environment.
So, are millennials the answer to all our woes?
Obviously not. To say that ‘millennials will be better leaders’ is to paint with far too broad a brush. There are going to be failures and successes in every generation. What’s more, to hire somebody based on their age alone is asking for problems.
At the same time, millennials do have a great deal of positive attributes, not least of them the way they view both technology and human interaction. In both cases, they were raised in during a time where we gained a great deal of insight about how things and people fit together which we didn’t have before. They take this information for granted, but the truth is that former generations haven’t managed (and probably will never manage) to completely come to grips with the ramifications thereof.
In this way, millennials offer us a range of skills which will make companies able to better weather the ups and downs of the modern economy. They understand what modern companies need and – perhaps even more importantly – they understand what modern employees need. That matters, because as older generations and the way they view work retires, it is important companies are well positioned to hire those who come after, whether they be millennials or generations X.
Creative Commons image courtesy State Farm.