As a generation known for lack of long-term commitments, Millennials are poor poster children for proven work and leadership.
However, the tide is turning in churches and culture, with more young adults stepping into the forefront of businesses, arts, ministries, and more.
Those of us identified as Millennials, between the ages of 20 and 35, should just admit the stereotypes are true for good reason. We like doing what we want, avoiding responsibility and hard work, and saving money by living with our parents long after we attain a college degree (the fine art of “mooching”). In other words, we are fellow humans who’ve experienced the same difficult economic recession the same as all the rest. We’ve just embraced the new trend called “delayed adolescence,” while the rest of the world tumbles onward.
We may have prevalent flaws, but that means we need all the more help overcoming them. Mentors and leaders are the cheerleaders and gatekeepers of our lives, simultaneously pushing us forward and keeping us back from doing meaningful work. To really accomplish something as our life’s work, we’re going to need assistance as well as responsibility. Just because we’re younger doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be respected or listened to. We may not have much proven worth career-wise at this point in our lives, but it doesn’t grant older generations a free pass to ignore us.
10 Suggestions for Leaders from Millennials
- Cast vision. Millennials don’t want to be given tasks to accomplish. We want to be part of a story bigger than ourselves. Paint the big picture and remind us where we fit into it.
- Be accessible. You’re an industry professional we can learn much from. But for us to learn from you, we’ve got to be around you and interact with you.
- Be interested. One rightly emphasized aspect of the postmodern perspective is relationship over rules. We can easily get lost in the minutiae of tasks, so even a brief, friendly conversation with a boss can lift spirits among the cubicles.
- Be patient with us. We desperately need work experience and we’re hoping your company is one that can grow us and prepare us for a better future, even if it’s not with you.
- Lead with passion. No one is drawn to dry, robotic rigidity. We want to see what gets other people motivated to do great work.
- Develop talent. It’s convenient for a leader to use interns or newbies in the office to fill gaps in the company positions, or frantically meet the demand of each day with an unplanned reordering. But take the time to learn who we are and what skills we can best use to benefit the company. It’s better for everybody long term.
- Be honest. We don’t need you to sugarcoat the truth. If we suck at something, tell us why and shift us into a role that works off our strengths for the good of the whole team.
- Respect our commitments. We’ve all got more going on in life outside of our work. Sure, we should put in our full hours and be willing to go the extra mile at times. But don’t abuse our schedules or take our time for granted.
- Invite us into the decision-making process. You can tell us something, or you can include us in creative problem solving and allow us to craft part of the organization. These kinds of opportunities will help us really buy into the vision of the company.
- Believe in us. We’ll work ten times harder if we know our leaders have our best interest in mind, not just the company’s profits margin.
A time will come when the current generation has had its final day.Transition will be necessary. A leader can’t keep his position forever. By valuing the Millennials in your organization, you ensure the next generation of leaders will take the helm the best equipped they could ever be. They will be better for it, and your organization will be better for it. Good leadership is about leaving a good legacy, and a legacy worth leaving is rooted in what benefits people.
Give Millennials a chance. It will be our turn eventually, so we’re better prepared if you lead us well in the meantime. We are leaders in the making. Don’t underestimate us. Besides, we might even surprise you.
Written by: John Weirick
John Weirick is a writer, editor, and author of The Variable Life: Finding Clarity and Confidence in a World of Choices. Visit johnweirick.com for thoughts on change, culture, and personal growth.