Millennial leaders – How do they operate and what we can learn from them?

A lot has been written about the challenges millennials have to integrate into our organizations. But they are now moving themselves into management or project leadership roles. I have therefore observed the behavior of millennial leaders and want to share feedback in this article.

We have heard a lot about the millennials, about the difficulties they have to accept hierarchy, how challenging they find it to cope with agenda constraints and more generally speaking, to integrate into our organizations. But we have heard little so far about the way they behave as leaders.

I believe it is now time to ask that question, because these millennials, – who were born in the 80’ and 90’ – are now reaching management or project leadership positions. I therefore observed their behavior in such roles over the past couple of months.

Millennial leaders have grown up with social media and I believe that this is influencing also how they operate in leadership roles. During a project for example, I could observe that they tend to reach out frequently to their community and that they have a quite inclusive and participative approach.

At an early stage of a project or decision making process they connect in order to collect relevant experience that others might have made when confronted to similar questions. Once different options or problem solutions have been identified, they connect back to their network in order to check if that response to needs and expectations.

And once the proposal is ready to be presented to top management or before a final decision will be made, they often check back again with their community to ensure that there is broader support.

I believe that this approach is giving a lot of strength to the millennial leaders. Drawing on the collective intelligence of their network at an early stage enables helps them to have more robust problem solutions. This participative approach helps also for the implementation phase, because it helps ensure broad buy-in and support.

Finally, I believe that their inclusive way of working impacts also the leadership posture of the millennial leaders. It allows them to speak on behalf of the group. They often position themselves as the representatives of a collective process instead of operating only in their own name. This gives them a lot of credibility and legitimacy.

So I believe that there is a lot we can learn from the millennial leaders!

More information in my book:

Sven Sommerlatte : Successful Career Strategy – An HR Practitioner’s Guide to Reach Your Dream Job (Springer, June 2023).  ISBN: 978-3-662-66790-3

Click here to find my book

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