Last week I began to explore what every leader can do, at a minimum, to lead millennials in the context of also leading the entire team (click to read). As a practical matter, I began by simplifying the essential role of leadership into three core requirements in fulfilling our responsibility to those under our authority: to lead, to provide, and to protect.
This week I will look a bit more closely at how millennials regard the first element – to lead.
Another way to say, “to lead” is that it is our responsibility to provide direction. Yes, much has been written elsewhere about the “need” millennials express to maintain a sense of independence. Though this factor cannot be set aside, the reality is that with this generation, as with all others, it is essential to provide a clear sense of direction. The millennials amongst us want to know where they are headed, they want clarity regarding the essential mission we are pursuing.
When the direction or mission is clear, the millennial worker will then independently decide whether they are on board with it (and with the leader) - or not. This is one of the primary reasons that as leaders we must be clear with our course of action. In a vague or muddled directional environment, millennials will be less engaged, and more easily distracted. Is this not the case with most – if not all people – of any age?
To the point, millennials are different in that they simply won’t pretend they are engaged. They will let us know without the varnished socialization more typical of older generations.
Therefore, as leaders we must lead. We must provide clarity in direction and mission. Doing so will allow millennials to decide to get fully engaged. Or leave the team. With this generation, it will be one or the other.
Next time we will look at the second of the three leadership essentials – to provide – and how it relates to leading millennials. Stay tuned…