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Millennials are breaking the mold for corporate leadership. They want their work to be accompanied by a sense of purpose, and aspire to be collaborative and transformational leaders. Unlike Gen X-ers and Boomers, the millennial generation isn’t after the money or power associated with leadership roles; they’d rather inspire others and make a difference. A recent survey from Workplace Trends reveals that when asked what their biggest motivator was to lead, 43% of millennials stated empowering others, while only 5% said money and just 1% said power. Though this shift is significant, it’s important that these newer leadership styles still yield success. Practicing these tried-and-true habits will put you well on your way to effectively leading a team, regardless of your age or experience level:
Become an expert in your industry.
Millennials are comfortable with transparency – everything is open and shared. This makes it easier to learn about what’s important and current from all corners of your industry. Information equals expertise: Read relevant blogs, articles, editorials, publications; watch and listen to the right webinars, interviews, and seminars. Stay curious and eager to absorb new information. Even the most well-versed leaders would never say they know it all.
Learn your team’s culture.
Look around. Listen and learn how your colleagues work. Learn about their roles, responsibilities, professional goals, strengths, and weaknesses. Who favors more feedback? Who prefers daily status reports? Absorb as much of this knowledge as you can and adapt your style to work as a cohesive unit.
Do your homework and make informed decisions. If you’ve done those things, you should feel confident in the decisions you’ve landed on, even if they’re challenged by someone with more years of experience. Be aware of the value in bringing a fresh perspective to the table. That’s not to say you should dismiss other opinions or advice from others, just don’t back down immediately.
Be able to articulate your thoughts thoroughly and efficiently.
Whether you’re delegating tasks or talking to a superior, effective communication is key. Deliver your messages concisely and with conviction so that it permeates through all levels of the organization. This way your employees will understand why they are working on a task, what they should be doing, and where it will lead them to.
Identify areas you can offer a fresh perspective.
A younger employee might excel in areas that older staff may not, such as social media. If there’s an area in your company that could benefit from your expertise, proactively offer your help.
Remain calm and collected.
Part of being a successful leader is staying cool under pressure. The business world is continuously going to throw you curveballs in the midst of stressful situations, and a leader’s reaction is carefully watched. Take a step back and put things into perspective. Members of your team will feel reassured by a collected demeanor, which will in turn develop their trust and confidence in their leader.
Remember – You are what you repeatedly do.
If you want to be perceived as a leader who’s firm but flexible, transparent, and approachable, you need to continuously demonstrate those behaviors over time.
Share your knowledge.
Work on coaching, mentoring, and empowering your associates. Be creative and open to unique opportunities for their personal and professional development. When you empower your employees, you help to set them up for success, and develop a long-term strategy for your business along the way.
Leadership isn’t not granted or bestowed, it’s a quality that is developed, that can and should be practiced and improved over time. If I could give my 25-year-old self any leadership advice, it would be this: Think through all communications before initiating or responding. Words and actions should be measured and the end result should always be considered. Give the benefit-of-doubt to challenging situations, but don’t expect it in return. This will lead to thoughtful, tempered communication skills, which is a sign of maturity, a quality widely associated with leadership.
As millennials find their footing as new leaders with innovative styles, flexibility is key – especially when leading those older than themselves. Which of the above tips do you practice most?
This post is written on behalf of Cory Jones, who currently serves as Vice President of Commercial Marketing for Frontier Communications. In his role, Cory is responsible for all facets of business-to-business marketing for the company, including acquisition, retention, digital, social media, lead generation, and marketing communications.
Cory holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Texas Tech University. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children, and is on an eternal quest to finally break par on the golf course.