How can Millennials & the Previous Generation of Leaders Engage with Success

The chasm between the younger generation and older generation is getting larger and larger.  I talk quite frequently to people on the topic of, “How can older generations engage with younger generations, specifically Millennials.”  As one who stands in the middle of these age groupings, I feel I’m probably fairly objective on the subject.

Millenials aren’t that different.  That isn’t to say they don’t come from a different place than previous generations and there aren’t significant differences in their perspective; but when you get down to their core principles they’re essentially the same as the previous groups of leaders.

How can Millennials and the Previous Generation of Leaders Engage with Success:

Who are Millennials

Just like anyone else, to engage with Millenials (those born between 1980 and 2000) you must understand them first.  A few things about this group: first they tend to be entitled and need to be inspired.  Second, despite these tendencies, they are very generous, passionate, and extremely cause-driven.

How Millennials are Similar to Previous Generations

Millennials are very similar to their counterparts from previous generations.  Because Millennials are cause-driven, their looking for a challenge; they want to be put on projects that will stretch them and push them – they’re a very driven bunch.  Since they have a tendency to push themselves, they’re looking for places where they can grow.  Their insatiable drive is the common trait that ties them to previous generations.

How to Connect with Millennials

A great leader needs to address this passionate and extremely cause driven group in a certain manner.  A person who needs to be inspired and is cause driven is looking for more than a job they’re looking for a calling and they are looking to become part of something greater than themselves.  In addition, this group is looking for a challenge – they want to be put on projects that will stretch them and push them because they are a driven group.

One key in connecting with Millennials is not to delegate tasks to this group, but to delegate authority to this generation.  If you delegate tasks, you’re going to get followers.  You’re going to create people who do what they’re told.  If you delegate authority, you will develop and create leaders.  It’s a little risky because they’re going to fail and won’t do it as well as we could because we have the wisdom of years; but in the long run this will create a better leader as opposed to one who just follows orders.

How Can Millennials Advance

Millennials by nature tend not to do a lot of unilateral maneuvering; they want to go right to the source.  From a Millennial perspective, they often think the best way to influence an organization is to take their ideas right to the top man.  The young professional needs to know that the best way to influence the organization is by quietly doing great & phenomenal work; and to do it two times better, two times faster, and accomplish twice as much than anyone has ever done.  At the end of it all say to your superiors, “I hope that’s what you wanted, if not I will change it and is there anything else I can do for you because it’s a pleasure to serve you.”  What this demonstrates is that you’re humble, and you have a little of that old school work ethic.  Older generations love nothing more than to see a little old school in a young leader.

One of the most important things that a Millennial will need to do effectively to advance is to understand how to Lead Up.  Leading Up is the ability of a young person to show honor to the older generation.  If the young generation honors publicly the previous generation, it will give them the ability to privately influence the older generation.  If a young person is constantly Leading Up, it will give the young leader the opportunity to be part of the inner circle of the older generation. 


Young Leaders need Older Leaders

There is natural tension between the generations.  For the generations to successfully work together, they must be intentional about it.  Don’t resent, fear, judge them – believe in them.  Believe in them because they need you to believe in them, understanding that Millennials are similar in needs, wants and desires to previous generations of leaders.  Furthermore, this younger group of leaders will become our legacy so we need to be purposeful in pouring into them.


5 thoughts on “How can Millennials & the Previous Generation of Leaders Engage with Success

  1. PwC released thought leadership – Millennials at work. Let me know and I will inbox you the document.

  2. Charmaine, thank you for the reply. If it’s the PwC doc – Millennials at work: Reshaping the Workplace, I remember reading it about a year or so ago. I thought it was very interesting. Some of PwC consulting items/docs are really insightful. If you have the doc, I’d appreciate the opportunity looking at it.

  3. Congratulations Billy on your new launch. I’m sure this will be interesting and helpful for many of us regardless of vintage. I enjoyed your insights and look forward to your next piece.

  4. Pingback: The Evening Post: The Generation We Love to Dump On | Geek Alabama

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