As the years pass by and the world continues to develop; people’s behaviours, attitudes, ideas, and worldviews change as a result. Society has been through various phases due to economic, social, and political factors which shaped it. Therefore, individuals born in different phases of the world’s history had different characteristics. In this article, we will be exploring the general characteristics of “Millennials” in particular. And then and most importantly we will investigate their strengths in leading teams.
Who are Millennials (or Generation Y)?
Millennials are born between 1980-1994 (i.e. individuals now aged between 25-39 years as of 2019). It is estimated that they are now 100 million in size (around 15% of all world population as of now). They are also referred to as “echo boomers” since they are the children of “baby boomers”, individuals born in the previous generation – i.e. Generation X.
What are the traits of an overall Millennial?
This generation has various different characteristics compared to its previous generation. Generally, the main personality traits of a Millennial are:
- Tech-savvy: Being born in an electronic-filled world, this generation has grown up in an online and socially-networked world. They had more opportunities to explore different ideas as a result of their interest and ability to explore the rest of the world compared to Generation X. As a result, they learned from diverse sources which helped them to be more open and have new ideas.
- Curious: Millenials are reported as the most curious generation as stated in this report by EMD Group. They are open to trying and learning a wide range of stuff both in their personal and work lives. As a result, they also base their decisions or generate new ideas consulting in many sources and always look for the most efficient ways.
- Collaboration: Millenials are generally motivated by collaborative work. They are extremely team-oriented and enjoy collaborating with others and make new friends during the process. As a side result, they are also known as the most diverse generation since they are always open to getting to know new people.
- Authenticity: It could be arguable which generation, Y or Z, enjoy authenticity in terms of personalisation or specialisation, yet Generation Y enjoys being authentic in their habits. As consumers, they tend to interact and buy more personalised items for themselves. This is because this generation is told to be special and different and they would like to be one. On the other side, they also would like to come up with solutions that were not tried or that others are afraid/lazy to try. They want to be unique anytime and anywhere.
- Self-oriented: Though it may be thought of as a negative trait, it should not necessarily mean so. Millennials greatly value the time they spend for themselves and their loved ones. In terms of work-life, they give great attention to work-life balance in their work and always make sure that their professional lives do not shadow their personal lives. The term “Work hard, play hard” resonates much within this generation. In terms of personal life, they tend to spend more time alone as well compared to Generation X.
While it is impossible to categorise individuals in certain stereotypes (and reflect the traits of each stereotype if we were able to do so), the main traits of Millennials could be summarised as:
“Basically, if I were to summarise Millennials in one sentence, it would be: They are a digital and innovative generation who would put people first in their personal and professional lives, who enjoy the interaction with the counterparts and always look for the uniqueness within their lives.”
What kind of leadership attitude do Millennials show?
Millennials are a serious proportion of the society as well as the workforce, thus it is also important to investigate how would they interact and lead within a business setting as well. Most of the millennials are now in senior positions within various companies all around the world and at least many of them are advancing their careers to the upper positions.
Keeping the main traits we mentioned at the beginning of this article in mind, it would be fair to state they would show the following traits of a leader in a professional setting:
Millennial leaders are technology-driven:
Millennials are seen to employ technology and digital channels whenever it is possible. More than 40% of Millennials prefer to communicate through electronic channels than face-to-face meetings as reported in this article. This could be seen as a disadvantage by Generation X. However, it might be an important factor to skip unnecessary meetings and improve efficiency within the workplace. In addition to the communication part, millennial leaders are inclined to explore and experiment with new technological and digital solutions within the workplace for good.
Millennial leaders value work-life balance and are more flexible at work:
Employee loyalty and flexibility have different meanings for millennials at the workplace. Collaboration and self-orientalism are significant traits for millennials, they are open to setting more flexible arrangements within the workplace. This affects the business in two ways: First is the existing employees would have flexibility on how and when they want to work in a specialised environment designed for them, leading to more employee satisfaction. Secondly, being flexible at work is one trait that attracts new employees to the business. This is because most new hires are probably millennials who have the same demands, as Generation Z who values such arrangements even more than Millennials.
Millennial leaders tend to challenge hierarchical structures:
Being collaborative team players and leaders, millennial leaders are likely to value flat team structures where they can comfortably interact and communicate their ideas. They enjoy hearing ideas, solutions, and recommendations from all levels of the business with no boundaries. And thus making better-educated decisions are important for them. They value working collaboratively with all levels of business and voice their and their junior employees’ concerns with the upper levels without hesitation. This leads to better decision-making processes and a more comfortable working environment for all.
Are you ready for millennial leaders?
While millennials gain more percentage in the total number of employees at each business, it is fair to expect the workplaces will follow the change. Organisations should be aware of what changes they will face and how to set up their work environment. Tailored for millennial leaders and workers. While there is evidence showing that there are many areas where they touch and affect the business for good, it is also important to set up a workplace allowing them to perform comfortably and attract a new generation to the workplace.
Need an idea for a team session that would fit well the Millenial Leader? Why not try: Leadership journey?