10 Tips for Leadership, from One Millennial to Another
Millennials have been subject to much criticism for their workplace skills--like generations before them--but many are already leading companies, or preparing to. We asked 10 Millennial founders from Young Entrepreneur Council to share what they think fellow Millennials can do to shore up their leadership skills in the eyes of their colleagues.
1. Remember There's No One Way to Lead
The myth that Millennials aren't great leaders rests on the false notion that all leaders lead in certain ways. The truth is that there's a wide diversity of leadership styles that may or may not work for certain organizations. We can't just look at an individual's leadership style--we have to look at the structure, context and values of their organizations as well.
2. Spend Time Around "Doers"
Millennials surround themselves with idea people. While this helps increase our growth, we also need to focus on the doers who can accomplish the great ideas a business decides to implement. We lead by inspiration, which doesn't mean we are not great leaders--we're just different.
3. Remember that Generation Doesn't Make the Leader
Leadership is born out of personality and upbringing. It doesn't matter what year you were born if you have the drive (are you ambitious?), raw building materials (your skill set and personality) and good influences (mentors) along the way. You've either got it or you don't--there are great leaders and terrible leaders in every generation.
4. Cultivate Patience
Sometimes, Millennials have an "instant everything" fixation. From answers to complex problems to better software, they want the solution immediately and grow frustrated when their needs are not instantly satisfied. The main skill set that would be helpful for Millennials to practice would be patience and acceptance that sometimes, it is OK to not have an answer right away.
5. Dress the Part
The Whatever generation looks like it is full of great leaders to me. The sexism is gone, the judging is gone, and everyone is free to succeed on their own merits without an Old Spice boss peering over our shoulders. I think the hardest part for Millennial leaders is to accept that we're bosses now, and we need to act the part. That means not wearing a hoodie every day. We need to work on that.
6. Use Confidence to Your Advantage
Millennials are known for being brash and outspoken and I can't say I'm any different. Instead of viewing this as a weakness, turn it around. Leaders need to be the visionaries who will stand up for their ideas even in the face of massive resistance. To lead a team, you have to stand firm for the big ideas that you're all working towards together. Use your outspokenness to get your team on board.
7. Look at Incredible Millennial Examples
If the goal of a leader is to bring your team to accomplish their mission, look at Mark Zuckerberg, LeBron James and Sean Parker. Millennials are starting businesses and leading movements that change the world. I don't know why anyone would say we are not leaders. Simply look at the greats and follow their examples.
8. Empower Your Team to Lead
As a young entrepreneur, I know what I'm excellent at and where I'm not the best. So I, and many others in my space, have adopted a much more collaborative approach to leadership. If you hire people who are smarter than you at whatever it is they do, you build an ecosystem of leadership that empowers everyone to have a hand in leading and directing.
9. Be the Change You Want to See
It's true that Millennials can sometimes be viewed as poor leaders because they come from a culture of entitlement. One solution is to not fall into those habits. Be driven, have patience and showcase maturity. Show that you don't subscribe to that culture just because you're a Millennial, and be the change you want to see.
10. Create a Millennial Company
Fair enough: Millennials might not be optimally geared towards leading a traditional large enterprise with all the internal reporting, inflexibility and bureaucracy that comes with it. So why not build a Millennial company? I believe Millennials are best suited (and better than non-Millennials) to lead modern companies that are values-based, global in vision and people-first (before process).