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Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Featured, Leadership | 3 comments

4 Essential Skills for Millennial Leaders

Let’s first be clear that leaders don’t have to be managers. Leaders are in any position – one with given authority or one with influence. Every employee has one or both. This post’s message, however, is written for the Millennial manager who embraces the role of leader.

Let’s also be clear on the definition of leader. I’ll quote one of my favorite artists, Hugh MacLeod, for a definition.

“I can’t tell you what to do. I can only inspire you what to do.”

So, working from this definition, Millennial managers have some work ahead of them.
It’s not because of their experience, albeit this is a factor. It’s because Millennial managers have to help undo years of crappy leadership rooted in outdated beliefs about the role of leadership and the place of people in our organizations.

Simply stated: Millennial managers have to help lead the way to transform our work environments to places where employees derive joy from their work. Millennial managers need to help lead the way to create optimism in our workplaces.

This is massive. It can only be dismantled, however, one revolution at a time in each workplace.

What then is needed from Millennial leaders? Lots. Here’s a list of four essential skills we need our Millennial leaders to hone and apply adeptly to help make our workplaces great.

Observe and then respond

Before responding to a problem, or actions or words from another, stop yourself. Don’t let your impulses move your mouth and say something you’ll regret.

The tension in our workplaces today are already at a fever-pitch. Apply a little ninja-philosophy and remain calm. Set the tone in your interactions and be known for calmly observing a situation and not responding angrily, hastily or rudely.

Know your stand

On the whole, previous generations of leaders were not groomed to know their personal values. It is often seen as “that touchey-feely crap.” Personal values are our anchors. They help to guide our actions and decisions and to stay true to what we stand for.

Executives at Enron show us what happens when we lose site or never know our personal values.

Lead virtual teams

Despite Yahoo and Best Buy’s decisions to eliminate or greatly reduce the availability to work remotely, virtual teams are more common today. WIth advances in mobile technology and relevant applications, Millennials are again positioned to show us how to deepen trust, build supporting systems that help virtual teams thrive despite the infrequent IRL face-to-face interactions.

Leverage social technologies like Google Hangouts or even Skype to pull a team together for celebrations, important meetings, or brainstorm solutions to a challenging problem. Use productivity tools with social elements like Asana that help people collaborate more timely and efficiently.

Promote collaboration

Human beings are social creatures. Putting up barriers like cubicle walls have lured us to believe we cannot be productive without a wall separating us from one another. Time and again I’ve seen employees adapt and embrace changes to more collaborative work spaces without the Berlin Wall.

Use the work environment, technology and our innate desire to connect with others to foster a collaborative team norm.

Millennial leaders are uniquely positioned to show us Gen Xers, Boomers, and even a smattering of employees from the Silent Generation how work gets done in the 21st century.

We just need more Millenials to step up and claim their rightful place as manager leaders.





This post appeared original on our partner’s site You Tern’s Savvy Intern Blog.

Image credit: bplanet / 123RF Stock Photo

Shawn Murphy

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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  • Andrea Hypno

    Can you imagine how the world could be different if say just 30 percent of politicians could be millennial leaders?

    But probably millennial leaders aren’t interested is selling fluff othewise they wouldn’t be leaders. :)

  • Ed Gutierrez

    Great Post. All of the essentials are mentioned for success. This IS what it takes to successfully retain your employees and keep a positive work environment in order. Thank you.

  • Neil Moore

    There really very little that is new in the world. Great leaders already exhibit most of these skills. I trust that even Lao-Tzu would move forward to lead in the virtual environment in which we live. So I guess I do not see these skills being needed by just millenial leaders…all leaders should exhibit the skills identified in this article. Still a good reminder for all of us aspiring to lead people.
    “To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders,
    the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and
    praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best
    leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”

    Lao-Tzu 6th Century B.C.