In early November 2015 I wrote an article on the four reasons why Millennials will change us for the better, professionally, in the years to come. Since then I’ve had several opportunities to discuss that article as well as Millennials in general. Thanks to the help of a close friend (a Millennial) who offered some perspective on the topic I’ve managed to come to a conclusion on why Millennials and past generation’s leaders experience challenge. My conclusion: few people that are non-Millennials actually understand what drives Millennials and how to harness that knowledge to successfully coexist.
I was able to reach this conclusion as a result of three sets of experiences:
1) I’ve been lucky enough to manage Millennials closing in on 10 years and have experienced firsthand what they like, dislike and just straight up won’t deal with. Some of these experiences were successes and others, well not so much. One thing is for certain all the experiences have been great learning lessons, especially those in which I made mistakes.
2) I’ve read dozens of articles, books and blogs from reputable sources that speak in one regard or another to the change, challenge and complexity of managing new generations entering the workforce, in particular the Millennial generation. These resources often times talk about the differences between the Millennials and other generations which provides insight and perspective.
3) From an age perspective I fall on a weird time continuum where I don’t exactly belong to either generation, Gen-X or Millennials 100% as my date of birth falls on the cusp of when Gen-X ends and Millennials begin. As a result I have been told that I have a unique set of characteristics which are a combination of the two generations: an old school work ethic with a new school approach to business and leadership.
While my conclusion on the Millennials and reasons supporting it aren’t entirely scientific I do believe it gives me a unique approach in dealing with and understanding Millennials which is the reason for this article.
In prior articles I’ve shared that good leadership is an art form, one which is incredibly difficult to master. In the old days leading was mostly done by fear, with a command and conquer, take no prisoners attitude. Millennials are teaching us lots of new things, one of the biggest being that authoritarian leadership isn’t the only way, or best way for that matter, to successfully get things done at the office.
Millennials are changing the way we go about business as entire industries are changing their marketing strategies and how companies present themselves, in an attempt to adjust to the Millennial juggernaut. Leadership is also changing as a result of the Millennials, the change is slow but we’re seeing change nonetheless. Perhaps you’ve witnessed it, or read one of the thousands of articles or books on the Millennial subject, as a result you know that traditional management styles are failing to produce the same results with the young professionals of today.
The reason why the authoritarian leadership style struggles to successfully work with the Millennial generations goes back to my conclusion. So let’s dive into the mind of the Millennial to better understand how they operate (as I dare to grossly stereotype an entire generation – this will be fun):
To continue diving into the Millennial mind click here for the full article.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.