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The Millennial Generation & Leadership

Are You A Crappy Leader In The Eyes of Your Millennial Employees?

I am a Gen Xer. (Gen Xers also known as Generation X are people born between 1965-1980.)  My generation is the smallest. We are the “middle child” in the generational lineup. If this were the 1970’s hit TV show The Brady Bunch, Gen Xers would be Jan, who was stuck between her cute baby sister Cindy and her more popular sister Marsha. Gen Xers are squeezed in between the two behemoth generations Baby Boomers and the Millennial Generation.

As a past Gen X employee and now a Gen X business owner, my belief has always been “no news from management is good news.” I always felt, along with many of my Gen X peers, “just tell me what you want done, give me the tools to do it and then leave me alone!” The less I saw or heard from my team leader, the better.

As a Generational Speaker and Humorist, and as an employer of Millennials, I have discovered the Gen X, Lone-Wolf leadership style does not often resonate with the Millennial Generation.

The Millennial Generation is the 80 million people born between 1981 and 2002. Their numbers have surpassed the mighty Baby Boomers and they are expected to represent 40% of the workforce in five short years.[i] They continue to baffle healthcare and turn “the way we have always done it” on it’s head.

Leadership is no different. The Millennial Generation is reinventing leadership and demanding healthcare does the same. Does this mean we sacrifice the multiple generations in the workforce to meet the demands of the younger workforce? No! What it does mean is we all have to challenge our own leadership styles to help everyone reach a little higher and achieve success.


What is the Millennial Generation Looking for in a Leader?

Millennials do not define a leader in the traditional sense. When I first entered the corporate world back in the 90s, my managers practiced a top-down style of leadership. Their style was autocratic, they did not appreciate having their expertise questioned and they definitely had zero interest in my life outside of work.

Today, Millennials describe a good leader as: approachable, authentic and a team player. According to Deloitte’s fourth annual Millennial Survey: “greater than 65% of Millennials feel a good leader’s focus should be on interpersonal skills, strategic thinking and inspirational qualities vs. financial results.”[ii] Moving forward, successful, multi-generational leaders will be a hybrid; a coach, mentor and a leader all rolled into one.


What can I do today to lead Millennials?

Give them an opportunity to participate ASAP. The Millennial Generation has been participating in family decisions and has had tremendous influence over household spending from an early age.

In 2002, when the 20 something and early 30 somethings of today were in their early to late teens, they influenced 300 to 400 billion of the family spending. They influenced over 80% of the family apparel purchases and over 50% of the family car choices…this was often before they could drive.[iii]

Baby Boomers brought teamwork and consensus building into the family and encouraged their Millennial children to participate. Millennials contributed to family discussions that ranged from dinner plans, vacation destinations and technology choices.

As a leader, the more involved you can get Millennials in projects, discussions or meetings the better. Do not let your perception of Millennial’s greenness keep you from allowing them to engage early on.

Matt Khair (Millennial) has been working at CRBUSA, an engineering, architecture and construction firm, over nine years, much longer than the average 3 years a Millennial stays at one place of employment.

“CRBUSA’s culture does not let age or experience determine how much responsibility you will be assigned.

“One of the projects I was given was creating a business plan, presenting it to the Core Team Leaders and receiving feedback. I was 21years old, a recent college graduate and I was in a meeting listening to what the company leaders were discussing. I was floored!!” — Matt Khair

CRBUSA recognizes the importance of getting Millennials involved quickly. CRBUSA also does not allow age or job tenure to influence the level of responsibility they bestow upon their young talent. This does not mean the company disregards seniority. The organization successfully gave Matt an immediate sense of purpose at the company and gave him an opportunity to learn from senior management.

No matter where we fall on the generational time line, we all have a responsibility to be conscientious leaders. The beauty of Millennials is that they want to learn from our past stumbles, tell us who they are and lead us all to a changed future.


Meagan Johnson

Known as the Generational Humorist, Meagan tackles generational challenges head on. Unwilling to accept standard, by-the-book generalizations Meagan demonstrates, through her own in-depth research that all generations have differences and strengths that go beyond mere age and appearance.

Quoted by the Chicago Tribune, CNNMoney.com and US News & World Report, she has been heard on ABC Talk Live, NPR and profiled on Conde’ Nast’s Portfolio.com. Meagan has become the ‘Go To’ expert for all things generational.


Find Meagan @ www.MeaganJohnson.com or 1-800-759-4933.

[i] Louis Efron, Why Millennials Don’t Want To Work For You, http://www.forbes.com/sites/louisefron/2015/12/13/why-millennials-dont-want-to-work-for-you/#34583e0c3ed4, 12/13/15

[ii] Smykal Emily, 8 Stats on Millennials and Leadership in the Workplace, https://www.jibe.com/blog/8-stats-on-millennials-and-leadership-in-the-workplace/#sthash.WkePi4uS.dpuf , 8/26/15

[iii] National Retail-Federation Conference

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