Suddenly in Charge
In 2016 Millennials became the biggest generation in the workforce, and we're not talking entry positions. One in three is a manager. One. In. Three.
What makes Ms good leaders? Fast work, courage when it comes to risk, and the ability to sort multiple, constant streams of data. That’s exactly what you’d expect from a generation who grew up digital, and exactly what managers need to do during this age of disruption in every industry.
But new Millennial managers often struggle to win the support of their teams, generally because of two factors: leadership style and communication style.
Narrating Each Move
Millennials tend to lead with influence more than with authority. Ms would rather bring people along with them than plunge ahead on their own.
This is a shift. In the past, the stereotypical leadership model was visionary, independent and larger than life. But Millennial leaders are often characterized as more introverted than extroverted.
Given a choice, most Ms lead with conversation. Here's the hitch. To older generations, collaborative leadership can be misconstrued as weakness, indecision, lack of initiative or favoritism.
Boomers are drawn to big-picture, idealistic leaders; and Gen Xer tend to follow efficient, independent types. Of course, leadership requires takes all these elements—and collaboration, too. That's why most newly-minted Millennial managers benefit from talking with teams about how they lead, essentially narrating their leadership style.
A Millennial manager who understands how different gens define leadership can reassure older generations by saying things such as, “I will make this decision. That’s my job. I just want to know what you think first.” Or, “I'm looking for the very best solution here. That's why I want everybody to share ideas."
Growing Fierce at Face-to-Face
To become effective leaders across generations, Millennials often need better, braver face-to-face skills—especially for difficult conversations. Face-to-face situations tend to challenge for Millennials who grew up relying heavily on digital communication. But if a manager avoids face-to-face, other generations usually jump to the conclusion that the boss is hiding something or avoiding them. Phone skills count too. Phone phobia among Millennials is a real problem.
The solution is being fierce. Not confrontational, but straight-forward, honest and willing to listen. (More about this in a coming blog!)
A few small adjustments go a long way. Millennials who narrate their way through, and face the face-to-face will win the trust of their teams.
Are you a Millennial learning to lead? Join the conversation! Tweet Amy at @AmyLynchGenEdge. And don't forget to add your #Generation!
Amy Lynch is a consultant, keynote speaker and researcher on generations in the workplace. Her newest book GEN IQ: Generational Intelligence for an Age of Disruption is forthcoming from Nautilus Press. More about Amy’s work at www.GenerationalEdge.com
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