The time-honoured structures, languages, facilities, and approaches from the past won’t work today.
It’s a different world.
Say Hello to Millennials and Gen Z!
A new generation is here, and they think, relate, and live differently than any other generation before them. I am optimistic about this new generation. They are hopeful, educated, and believe they can change the world.
Generational literacy and intelligence are fundamental to communicating with each generation to understand its needs, especially those of the Millennials. The ability to understand and relate to multiple generations at one time is more crucial than ever before.
Millennials are optimists, talented, creative, and collaborators. They are also driven by a thirst for significance. They are relational, and have an inbuilt desire for authenticity. They will serve when challenged, and have ideas that are already revolutionising the world. In fact, when you look at these characteristics another way, it reveals Millennials carry the traits of exceptional leadership.
Don’t buy into the negativity against Millennials; they are remarkable. They are world-changers and hard workers.
In other words, this is a generation to love and be inspired by.
The common misconception about Millennials is that they are entitled basement-dwellers who are content to let their best years slip past them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
With the advent of the 21st century, we are facing a mega-shift in culture, church attendance, and religious beliefs. Everything is changing at a dizzying rate. In the midst of this metamorphosis, we have a generation that will change the way entire industries operate. Millennials are already redefining the world in which they want to live.
In the coming years, Millennials will make up the vast majority of the global workforce – 75% by 2030.
Here are some ideas from my latest book – Eight Innovations to Leading Millennials (which is available on Amazon).
Relational Leadership Style
For Millennials, leadership is not about power.
Millennials are fundamentally changing the way we understand leadership. Millennials follow relationship not authority.
Millennials no longer respond to power and authority in and of itself. The days of “because I said so” and “do as I say, not as I do” are vanishing.
Authoritative power does not connect with Millennials—relationship does.
A position of authority should not become an authoritarian leadership style. In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell relegates position/authority to the lowest level of leadership.
In the Boomer generation, leading from authority may not have been great leadership, but the hierarchy in organisations was an accepted norm. Today, not only is authoritative leadership ineffective—it is fatal to a culture.
Lead from authority but not with authority.
Millennial leadership style is relational and strategic. Leadership requires both skill and strategy, but Millennial leadership is about creating connections with people. The saying “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is truer today than it ever has been before.
Leaders must first work on the relationship and then apply strategy.
Ask yourself this key question: how would I lead if I had no organisational authority? If you consider that your people didn’t have to do what you said, you would have to rely more on relationship and communication.
Millennials respond to the relational leader.
Leading Millennials is more about being the guide on the side, not a sage on a stage. It’s about sitting next to rather than in front of.
Collaborative Organisational Structure
Many organisational structures in the past have been built like a ladder. Decisions seem to rest with people at the top of the organisation, while others at the lower rungs serve to implement these decisions.
Millennials are team-oriented and collaborative, and resist structure. Lead pastor and college professor Dr. Frank Damazio summarised this trend:
“Millennials are mercurial, and Boomers are linear; Millennials are fluid.”
Millennials resist most traditional structures because they were raised in a learning environment that embraced collaboration.
Evolve from a hierarchical organisation of ladders to circles of collaboration.
Ladders represent command and control, top-down organisations that dictate to subordinates.
Those at the entry level of organisations, the lowest ladder rungs, are often given seemingly meaningless tasks to do, with little or no input in the process of how these could be most effectively done or changed. As a result, disengagement and disillusionment become the norm.
In the minds of Millennials, the ladder style of organisational management leaves much to be desired.
By contrast, circle-style organisation shows teams within teams, with defined leadership but also specific outcomes.
Listening is the best way to reach Millennials who want to be involved and be heard.
Have a conversation with Millennials, and you’ll discover that they want to devote themselves to a cause. They want to work from a place of significance, where they can be relevant and leave an impact on their world.
Reaching Millennials must go deeper than surface level. Go deep by creating a structure that respects diverse opinions, rewards collaboration, and encourages fluid work processes.
Create an environment of training and mentoring
Millennials are hungry: they want to learn.
In a PwC report, Millennials at work, two of the top three factors that make an organisation an attractive employer were ‘opportunities for career progression’ and ‘excellent training/development programs.’
Indeed, another moniker that might fit the Millennials is 'the learning generation.' When we asked them to respond to the statement, 'I have a great appetite for learning,' the results were impressive. An overwhelming 95 percent of the Millennials answered the question positively.
About Ben Windle
Benjamin Windle is a pastor, author and life strategist. Ben is married to his high school sweetheart, Cindi. In their early twenties they moved to Portland, Oregon and worked at City Bible Church for Dr. Frank Damazio. Today, Ben and Cindi pastor Lifeplace Church and live in the hinterland of the Gold Coast with their 3 sons and 2 dogs.
Contact: Ben is a millennial – you can read his blogs at benjaminwindle.com.
Download a free PDF of Eight Innovations to Leading Millennials at millennialswhitepaper.com
Images sourced from Shutterstock.