Being a minimalist is a new way to lead. Millennials may adopt a minimalist approach in their leadership style. Minimalists eliminate excess to focus on what matters most in the present. By doing this, minimalists keep their future unfettered from carrying a lot of debt and other baggage. Minimalists gain clarity of purpose through these actions, and this sounds a lot like Millennials, too.

Leadership minimalism eliminates the clutter and clarifies purpose. When reviewing some stats on Millennials and their leadership style, we find some compatible traits to minimalism. In a survey highlighted by CIO magazine:

  • 47 percent say they are motivated to be leaders because they want to empower others
  • 83 percent prefer to work for companies with fewer layers of management
  • The most important skills: Communication (58 percent) and relationship building (55 percent)

A focus on others, fewer layers of management, and an emphasis on communication and relationship building provides a clear foundation from which to lead. Millennials are presented with a great opportunity to lead with these talents and attributes, and the key may exist within being minimalist leaders.

3 Reasons Why Next Generation Will Be Minimalist Leaders

1 – Purpose is at the heart of work

In a U.S. News article entitled “What Kind of Leaders Are Millennials?”:

“More than 60 percent of aspiring millennial leaders want to challenge and inspire their followers with a sense of purpose and excitement.”

To keep purpose activated, a clear connection between heart and mind is necessminimalistsary. Leading from purpose is as important as re-centering on purpose. Over time, Millennials will enhance their sense of purpose in the work they do and gain commitment from others to join in heartily.

Purpose can be lofty in what the bigger mission is – clearly defined and motivating in nature. Purpose also can be more practical in what work needs to be done to achieve the mission – clearly defined roles, responsibilities, authority, and accountability.

The challenge for Millennial and minimalist leaders is to be diligent in defining and communicating both – mission and work to be done – to gain proactive commitment and clarity to what needs to be done next.

Minimalist leaders keep purpose centered in the heart-mind connection and protected from being buried in what sidetracks.

2 – A digital world necessitates clarity of relationships

We are digitally entangled. We have many social connections, news feeds, emails, texts, and other ways to interact. Minimalist leaders use digital connections in a mindful way, utilizing them to build community, ignite change, engage in meaningful ways, and unplug each day to focus on the people around them.

Millennials are connected, but an awareness is rising to find the right balance between being online and offline. In an American Press Institute article entitled “Digital Lives of Millennials,”

“…51 percent say they are mostly or almost always online and connected. And in the qualitative interviews, we heard a good deal about the desire to control that connectivity.”

Collaborative, supportive relationships are vital for Millennials, as they are for all generations. Minimalist leaders develop productive social connections.

While social media channels can make connections within communities of interest, converting social connections to real-life ones delivers diverse perspectives and working relationships. A minimalist leader keeps this balance and, more importantly, knows the higher value comes when meeting face-to-face across a physical or virtual table.

Digital connections can trigger purpose to intersect between the right people. The challenge for Millennials and minimalist leaders is to be awake when this happens and then enliven them by taking the time to build effective relationships.

Millennials place importance on developing the right relationships. Minimalist leaders strengthen their relationships by tapping into the diversity of talents to rally and collaborate in pursuit of what matters most.

3 – “Always on” shifts to “Smartly on”

In the same U.S. News article mentioned above, the following perspective is relevant:

“28 percent of millennials are concerned that being a leader may disrupt their treasured work-life balance.”

Work takes advantage of the digital world and raises expectations of who should do what and when they should do it. Time boundaries disappear, and work invades life. Although there are crunch times, we cannot be crunched all the time. When this happens, perspective is lost. More importantly, innovation is lost.

Who is responsible? The short answer is everyone. Organizational leaders need to recognize the importance of giving time space to live outside of work. What they gain are refreshed perspectives and greater creativity from their team members.

As individuals, we also need to carve our time more judiciously. Knowing that we need 8 hours of sleep, there are 16 hours left in a day. If a minimum of 8 hours are spent at work, that leaves 8 hours.

  • What much time do we spend with our family?
  • How much time do we spend keeping our physical and spiritual wellness?
  • How much time do we spend in our community?
  • How much time do we spend reflecting, reading, and creating a better self?

Millennials are right to treasure their life-work balance, and this is not being lazy. Treasuring your work-life balance is being smart. Minimalist leaders get this fact.

Being “smartly on” means:

  • Centering and re-centering on the right purpose and bringing this sense to our families, workplaces, and communities
  • Scheduling time to think, collaborate, and refresh
  • Keeping the right tempo between work and life, knowing there are seasons of intensity and tranquility and embracing both in meaningful ways

Minimalist leaders use their time smartly. Millennials know the power of this balance, and they must be the best-skilled teeter-totter leader-athlete possible.

Leadership: The Next Generation of Minimalists

Being a minimalist leader cannot wait for the next generation. That is reality. We need to begin this shift now. Millennials are more attuned to this needed shift, and we need to find ways to support it. We also need to find ways to join the minimalist leader movement.

I wish being a minimalist leader was a movement, but it is not at this tipping point. Minimalism is gaining traction in our personal lives. We need to learn from this and apply similar minimalist principles to our work life.

Millennials bring hope to the minimalist leader strategy and tactics. The next generation always brings hope or, at least, it used to be that way. Today, older generations tend to clutter this hope with too many stereotypes and misunderstandings. We need to take a page from being a minimalist leader and re-center of purpose, clearing the unnecessary clutter and focusing on what matters.

As asked in earlier articles, are you ready to ignite a minimalist leader shift? What will it take to begin?