Not a week goes by that I’m not asked the question, “How can we lead these millennials?”
I am to the point now that I generally just laugh at first and then quickly answer, “You lead them like you lead others.”
That usually gets me a blank stare and then some form of a follow-up question that usually starts with, “But…”
Sure, there is much chatter. And there are a lot of social media posts about this generation. But have you ever thought for a minute that maybe, just maybe, the only difference between this generation and the one you are from, is the media exposure?
Have you ever considered that it is all just blown out of proportion?
I work individually with several successful millennials, and I can tell you firsthand that I lead them the same way I lead everyone else.
Here is how you can lead millennials well
1. Work on self-awareness and improving your leadership skills.
Choose to be a leader rather than a boss. If you set the standard for good leadership in your organization, your team (from millennials to baby boomers) will respect and follow your lead.
2. Engage and connect with your team
Ask more open-ended questions and (this is key)…listen to what they have to say. You may learn something from their perspective, and especially as it pertains to automation, technology, and innovation in the workplace.
Get to know them better than you do now. Learn their interests. Find out what they truly value in life.
Be caring but don’t be afraid to discipline when needed. It takes both to be a leader. Leaning too far in either direction yields the same lack of results.
3. Drive results
Teach them how to drive results with you, not for you. Be a results-driven leader, and you will attract other results-driven people.
Set goals with them and develop strategies together. There are instances where they may inspire your team to set higher goals than they would normally consider because they are accustomed to striving for higher levels in sports and technology, for example.
Celebrate successes and milestones as a team. When your team works well together and reaches a goal, every person wins.
Download and discuss your failures. This is a major lesson for those just starting into their careers. It lets them know that failure happens, that it is okay to fail because it means you have tried to do something. Some of the most valuable lessons in life come from failure.
4. Develop others
Make it your personal mission to help them develop as leaders. Invest in their development. Learn together, grow together, and create an environment that is a leadership development machine.
5. Advance the vision
Include them in conversations about where the company or department is heading. Ask them for ideas and suggestions. Let them know you want them involved in advancing the vision, through forward thinking and strategies.
Most people think about family when they hear the word “legacy.” And while family is usually our most impactful legacy, we also have an opportunity to leave a legacy to those with whom we work on a daily basis.
Good or bad, you are going to have a legacy; why not make it one that speaks to developing current and future leaders?
Dave Ferguson is an internationally recognized executive coach, speaker, teacher and author. Connect with him at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@LivingToLead.com. Ferguson lives on Hilton Head Island.