As I reflect on my own experience of working with millennials and research on highly effective leadership styles, I have found these four values will position millennials for success as leaders.
1. Constant Communication
Perhaps it’s all the time millennials spend talking to each other on social media that’s made them understand the importance of constant communication. They value open communication so much that 81% said they’d rather work for a company that prioritizes open communication over perks like gym memberships and free food.
Great managers acutely understand the importance of open communication to foster trust within the team. Millennial managers should practice transparent communication when disseminating information to their teams. Helping employees to understand the "why" helps create a more cohesive and happy team.
Another method to grow open communication on your team is to allow for two-way reviews. While it’s expected that managers will provide feedback to each team member — usually two to four times a year — there’s typically not a mechanic for employees to provide feedback to their managers. Opening a channel of communication where an employee can provide feedback to a manager not only strengthens the relationship but allows the manager to determine in which areas he or she needs improvement.
Over 70% of millennials describe themselves as authentic. As a group, millennials aren't willing to compromise on their values. This desire for authenticity spills over into the workplace where millennials want to be a part of a company whose values align with theirs. In a way, authenticity and communication go hand in hand.
Millennial managers should combine their transparent communications with being open to their employees to help them come across as authentic. By showing a personal side and making themselves vulnerable at key moments, millennial managers reveal their high emotional intelligence ("EQ") and empathy. As a millennial leader shows their vulnerable side to employees, they encourage employees to share their vulnerabilities in return. Creating this kind of authenticity between manager and employee also fosters a relationship where employees feel confident in offering new ideas.
3. Value Alignment
Millennials don’t want to be told what to do; they want to understand why they need to do it. This burning question of “why?” is something millennials carry with them as they enter management positions and it’s how they operate their teams.
Millennial leaders see the importance of making company and team goals relevant not only to the team but to each person on the team. It’s hard for a low-level employee to relate their daily work to a company’s multimillion-dollar goal. Great leaders work to strengthen that relationship between an individual’s output and the overall company goal.
A Gallup study found that 56% of employees whose managers keep them accountable and 72% of employees whose managers help them set goals are more engaged at work. Young managers can try the following: break down your team’s metrics-based goal into shorter-termed goals such as monthly or quarterly goals. These goals will be more relatable to your team.
To dig down into personal accountability, divide those shorter-termed goals into individual goals as they specifically relate to each person. You should account for each employee’s experience to tailor the goals accordingly. Finally, once those goals have been explained to each member of your team, keep them accountable!
4. Challenging The Status Quo
Great leaders look for ways to disrupt and improve products, services and processes. Millennials are not reserved when it comes to letting superiors know what’s working and what’s not in a process. Through their lens, one that is fresher and less jaded, they can identify problems and solutions to their company’s offerings and internal processes. Millennials are ambitious and want to make an impact, meaning they’ll challenge how things are done if they think a new way will get better results.
Developing the skill to respectfully and effectively change the status quo is an important tool for a millennial leader to have. Millennial managers should have intimate knowledge of how their team and products work, putting them in the best position to change anything that’s working ineffectively. Millennial leaders should challenge their teams to look at problems differently and challenge the status quo. This can be done in regular team meetings or team outings.
Young leaders should also be willing to take feedback from their team to the next layer of management and champion those challenges to the status quo. Looking out for the good of their team and the company will build rapport within the team and with managers higher up.
Millennials have the inclinations toward certain skills that can make them great leaders, all of which can be developed by more seasoned leaders and continuous professional development.