Sector News

How millennials challenge traditional leadership

August 6, 2015
Borderless Leadership

Millennials say they don’t care about money, legacy or hierarchy, and instead aspire to be collaborative, empowering and transformational leaders. However, many millennials also say their organizations lack the necessary corporate training programs to get them there.

Millennials challenge many of today’s traditional business practices, so it’s not surprising that they are also disrupting corporate leadership. The millennial generation isn’t attracted to the money or recognition associated with leadership positions. Rather, they want to be leaders to inspire others, make a difference in the world and lead companies that care about more than the bottom line, according to a new survey from Virtuali and Workplacetrends.com. Nearly half of the 412 millennials surveyed (47 percent) say they are motivated to be leaders because they want to empower others, while only 10 percent care about legacy, and 5 percent say they’d take a leadership job for the money.

Don’t count on your ‘plain vanilla’ resume to get you noticed – your resume needs a personal flavor to

“Millennials view organizations much less hierarchically than previous generations,” says Sean Graber cofounder and CEO of Virtuali, a leadership-training firm and consultancy. “Being a leader for a millennial might not necessarily mean being a CEO or a VP, but the definition [of leadership] is more expansive for them.”

The vast majority of millennial respondents aspires to be leaders (91 percent) and would prefer to work for companies with fewer layers of management (83 percent). However, the millennials’ most significant reservations about leadership roles are a lack of work-life balance (28 percent) and fear of failure (19 percent).

“Work-life balance was one of the biggest issues in taking on that next role, and as millennials assume these [leadership] roles, they will struggle with that more and more,” Graber says. “But even though they might have some reservations, overwhelmingly, they want to assume these [leadership] positions.”

Millennials say soft skills are key to leadership success

Millennials believe soft skills will put them on the fast track to leadership positions. Survey respondents said the most important skills are communication (58 percent) and relationship building (55 percent), and they feel they are already strong in these two areas. On the flip side, millennials have less confidence in their industry knowledge (43 percent) and technical expertise (41 percent).

Working on those shortcomings is a challenge for millennials, and more than half of the respondents (55 percent) said they aren’t satisfied with the leadership development opportunities at their companies, a sentiment reflected in Virtuali’s last survey from 2014. Many of the millennials said they want online classes or e-learning opportunities (68 percent) and mentor programs (53 percent) to help prepare for leadership roles, and they also want to shadow more experienced leaders (42 percent).

Aside from providing the training millennials want, companies should give feedback, set time for introspection and assign mentors to help millennials find areas of improvement, according to Graber. “Those are really big opportunities for companies, not only to help [millennials] get better at their jobs, but because they are heavily tied to engagement.”

Millennial, Boomer leadership styles differ

When it comes to styles of leadership, 63 percent of the millennial respondents said they want to be transformational leaders who challenge and inspire others with purpose and excitement. The second most desired leadership style was “democratic” (22 percent), defined as “sharing decision-making with followers.” Rigid leadership styles were less attractive; only 1 percent of those surveyed want to be autocratic leaders that impose strict control over policies and procedures. Boomers have traditionally embodied this leadership style, according to Dan Schawbel, founder of Workplacetrends.com and managing partner of Millennial Branding, a millennial-focused research and management consultancy.

“Boomers have been autocratic leaders that are all about command, control and policies, such as working nine-to-five,” he says. “Millennials want to create a more collaborative environment where they exchange ideas with peers and accomplish a mission instead of a corporate culture that’s rigid with policies and procedures.”

By Lauren Brousell

Source: CIO

comments closed

Related News

November 28, 2021

Becoming a more humane leader

Borderless Leadership

Most of us think we have to make a difficult, binary choice between being a good person or being a tough, effective leader. This is a false dichotomy. In truth, doing hard things is often the most human thing to do. There are two key ingredients — wisdom and compassion — and it takes learning and practice to lead with both, as well as some unlearning of conventional management habits.

November 21, 2021

How much ‘radical transparency’ in a workplace is too much?

Borderless Leadership

A lack of transparency has been a workplace problem for years. Not only are workers happier in transparent workplaces, but they may also be more likely to stay in their jobs; research shows when communication is poor, many workers are more likely to consider leaving their positions.

November 14, 2021

Top signs of a toxic workplace and how to deal with it

Borderless Leadership

“Toxic” has become an increasingly popular term to describe anything that could be psychologically unhealthy for us or encourage negative patterns. Unfortunately, this word is particularly applicable to the workplace. If business owners and managers aren’t careful, the organization and work culture they worked hard to build could spiral into the kinds of conditions that make their employees dread turning up to work every day.

Send this to a friend