I'm going to cut straight to the chase: A new paradigm for leadership is coming. It's undeniable--we're in the midst of a momentous generation swap that will ultimately change management and leadership as we know it. The Baby Boomers have known traditional top-down leadership their entire careers. As they retire, that linear structure will not be as prevalent.

Millennials, who make up over 33 percent of the workforce and are gradually stepping into leadership roles (albeit more gradually than they would probably like), don't identify with what they see as an old way of thinking.

This generation is all about collaboration; wants to impact the greater good; and is not too interested in how things were done in the past. In fact, the top-down approach that characterizes many companies may be one reason for the high turnover rates associated with Millennials--the square-peg-in-a-round-hole problem.

It's only a matter of time before Millennials are managing all companies, and already the impact that this will have is becoming clear. I saw firsthand the Highlands Ranch High School Student Council in Douglas County, Colorado, scrap the officer election process and opt instead to carefully assemble cognitively diverse teams (Whole Emergenetics, or what we call WEteams) to carry out leadership functions. We're seeing the same trend with many of our clients. Many of them are literally and figuratively tearing down walls to create the same collaborative environment.

WEteams allow you to tap into the power of the brain and, as a result, yield more productive and effective collaborations. These comprise a cognitively diverse group of people, meaning that all thinking and behavioral preferences are present. These preferences come from four thinking attributes--Analytical, Structural, Social, and Conceptual-- and three behavioral attributes--Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility.

In my organization, we utilize the WEteam approach for every initiative (a good sign for us, because as we grow, we are hiring more and more Millennials). In addition to being rooted in definable thinking and behavioral patterns of the brain, the approach makes just sense as the working world evolves. It's the Millennials who will cause the paradigm shift, but all of us left in the workforce will live in it.

If you're hesitant, here are five reasons why you should consider swapping traditional organizational hierarchy for a more Millennial, collaborative approach based on the brain and the way people operate.

1. You'll connect with a greater percentage of your stakeholders--because you're inherently approaching things from different perspectives and using different modes of thinking.

2. It encourages more ideas, which can be tested before they are implemented--so you'll avoid groupthink and end up with the best idea instead of just running with the first idea.

3. You'll have a more robust problem-solving toolbox--because you're not allowing only certain people to contribute ideas to a situation or challenge. It's the opposite of Maslow's hammer.

4. The team is greater than the sum of its parts--because you'll allocate tasks based on innate thinking and behavioral strengths rather than on hierarchy. In the end, the team is stronger than each individual contributor.

5. It's a time saver--because it creates a platform for any potential issue to be addressed initially rather than halfway through a project.

Millennials are changing the status quo, and teamwork is at the crux of this shift. The companies and leaders who embrace the change--and figure out how to advance alongside it--will achieve the success required to be at the forefront of their industries. 

Published on: Oct 9, 2014