Guest Post by David Grossman
The American workforce today is increasingly dominated by the millennial generation. According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis, more than one in three American workers are millennials. In 2015, the group became the largest share of the American workforce.
This obviously means that many more millennials will move into leadership positions over the next several years. They’ll need guidance for how best to lead not only their own generation, but older leaders and employees who may have different ideas for how to get things done.
I reflected on this, drawing from my own experience as a leadership consultant, from research on highly effective leadership styles, and from other insights on what motivates and inspires the millennial generation. From this, I’ve compiled a list of the 7 Skills of Highly Effective Millennial Leaders.
7 Skills of Highly Effective Millennial Leaders
The first four skills draw directly from a recent McKinsey&Company study which suggested that a small subset of leadership skills most directly correlate with leadership success. I believe these four skills apply to all leaders, from any generation. My remaining three skills come from my own observations about effective leadership and what’s most important for millennial leaders to keep top of mind.
The study concludes that the following four leadership skills help explain 89 percent of the variance between strong and weak organizations:
1. The leader commits to solving problems in the most effective way, not necessarily the fastest or easiest way.
This is really about being a strong and visionary leader who plans a strategy and works hard to execute it. Often leaders assume that as long as they have ideas, a vision, and a sense of purpose, that will be enough to lead the way forward. If only it were that easy. In truth, good leaders know the importance of planning and clearly spelling out the path ahead.
2. The leader operates with a strong results orientation.
This is about being efficient, productive, and prioritizing the highest-value work. This also requires that leaders start any planning by first outlining the business outcome they’re seeking. The most highly effective leaders know that everyone needs to understand what actions matter most to the success of an organization.
3. The leader constantly seeks different perspectives.
I translate this skill simply: Realize that everyone needs to lead. In successful organizations, being a leader isn’t just about people managing others. Instead, it’s about helping to make everyone on your team a leader. This involves monitoring trends, encouraging employees to submit ideas for improving the organization, and basing decisions on sound analysis, not just your gut.
4. The leader believes in supporting others.
Truly caring about the people on a team, getting to know them and what motivates them, will take leaders far in accomplishing any business goal. The most important element behind achieving any vision is the team. If the team does not understand where they fit in and know that they matter, all of a leader’s lofty goals will go nowhere.
The next three leadership skills help set millennial leaders apart in a new era of leadership. They respond to the growing desire from the millennial generation for more meaningful work. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, 44 percent of millennials say they would leave their current employer in the next two years, if given the choice, because they are not committed to the values or vision of the organization. Deloitte’s study found that millennials are drawn to organizations with a clear purpose and vision, and want their organizations to prioritize people, customers, their own employees and society over profits. For this reason, here’s three more skills that highly effective millennial leaders embrace:
5. The leader demonstrates a commitment to inspiring his or her team.
Effective leaders know that leadership is about inspiration, and that moving people to action takes creating an emotional connection with others. Facts and context are important, but it’s tapping hearts that’s most meaningful for employees. Inspirational leaders first figure out what employees want and need to do their jobs better, then give managers better tools for motivating their staffs.
6. The leader demonstrates respectful authenticity.
Respectful authenticity is about this constant process of being truthful – first with yourself and then with others – and saying the things that need to be said in a kind and respectful way. Being authentic isn’t about leaders saying whatever they think or feel. That’s going to be damaging to the leader personally, to others, or to the company. Instead, respectfully authentic leaders are sensitive to others’ needs and look out for the best interests of others. They share their truths with quiet courage, and consider what the audience can understand, process and make use of. Giving someone information they have little way to process or understand can just create confusion and anxiety.
7. The leader believes in communicating often and well.
Communication is really a superpower in today’s world, and certainly in today’s business and financial environment. As I titled my first two books, You Can’t NOT Communicate, not communicating really IS communicating, so my thought for every leader everywhere is this: If everything communicates, you might as well do it well! When it is done well, communication is really a way to make a difference. Communicating effectively gives the leader tremendous power to transform a company and a team, not to mention a leader’s relationships and life.
What skills do you see effective millennial leaders possessing in your organization?
David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership communication. He’s a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group, an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy. Click these links to follow him on Twitter @ThoughtPartner and Facebook and to connect on LinkedIn.