The Bold Faced Blog™

October 21, 2013

A New Wave of Leaders

Posted 5 years 122 days ago by Sheila Ellian Lewis

Millennials, those born between 1980 and the late 1990s, make up approximately 25 percent of the US population and their influence is increasingly being felt in leadership roles. While some facets of leadership remain unchanged over time, each new generation brings a different understanding to what leadership means and how it is best demonstrated.

Growth and development
What we’re starting to see with millennial leaders is a focus on personal development and an emphasis on cultures that foster employee growth as well as profit. As part of The Authentic Leadership Series sponsored by the American Public University, Michelle Maldonado spoke with one millennial leader, Omari Head, to find out more.

What emerges from the interview is the importance of leading authentically. “A lot of millennials, like me have discovered that it takes time and practice to understand the concept that managers maintain, leaders move forward.” Omari talks about the challenge of meeting his traditional leadership responsibilities of hitting objectives, conveying clear expectations and communicating effectively while also developing a service-leadership style

Some common preconceptions about millennials are that they’re uninterested in management and that job-hopping is caused by laziness. On the contrary, says Omari, millennials watched as their parents’ jobs were exported overseas and as “too-big-to fail” companies like Enron and Lehman Bros. went under because of unethical business practices. Millennials are motivated by different values, he says. “It’s not a lack of commitment on the part of millennials; it’s a lack of commitment some companies have demonstrated towards their own people and values.”

Is business changing?
So what difference will it make to the corporate world as more millennials take up leadership positions?

A recent article in Forbes has some answers. Having surveyed millennial workers, including many in leadership positions, Forbes highlights some ways in which millennials are changing corporate culture:

  • They want new jobs and new challenges every 12-24 months so companies have to think about talent mobility and leadership opportunities at more levels. It’s not about upward progression so much as exciting new challenges.
  • They expect more openness, transparency and inclusion from leaders and co-workers, and having grown up with social media, they’re very comfortable with sharing more information instantly.
  • The model of success is the startup, not the established corporate. Millennials want to build something new, and have less interest in maintaining existing structures.


How this will all play out in terms of influencing corporate cultures more globally remains to be seen, but it seems like an exciting shot in the arm for leadership. If it helps in turning business cultures away from the “too-big-to fail” mentality in the longer term that can only be a good thing.

In the meantime, what effects are you seeing? Has the millennial culture changed your company, and how are businesses adapting to make the most of millennial talent within the confines of business? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Tags: leaders millennials

Categories: categoryEmployment Trends

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