What do millennials think about leadership?
We’ve spoken many times about the impact millennials are having within teams. But, as time marches on, we’re now seeing Gen Z entering the workforce while millennials are settling into leadership roles. This week, we sat down with two young leaders, Adam Goodman from Microsoft and Huw Griffiths from Accordant, and asked them about their experiences as millennials in leadership positions.
There are plenty of stereotypes out there — for every generation, not just millennials — but as each generation matures, it’s wonderful to watch many of those stereotypes get flipped on their heads. One of the biggest stereotypes of millennials is their reliance on technology.
“Most people look at you knowing that technology is something you’ve grown up with,” Huw says. “But it means that you’re adaptable. It adds a layer of flexibility in the way that you work… many people also look to our generation to know what’s out there, what’s new.”
Adam agrees. “There are so many different learning avenues now with so many available online resources. Your career development, learning and growth is critically down to you, where no-one is going to hold your hand. If you want to know something, you have to go out and find it for yourself and there are many ways to do this, from online learning platforms through to in-person coaches who can help. It’s all up to you as the individual to go and do it, and ensure you are driving it, it’s your responsibility.
People expect millennials to be autonomous, creative and flexible.”
Shaking things up
Each generation wants to do things differently from those who came before them. Millennials are no different.
“When I started out, I was just another cog in the machine,” Adam says. “That’s what’s so great about working with People Make the Difference. Craig’s focus on people is always something I’ve tried to model because he treated everyone — regardless of whether they were the security staff or a VP — with respect, humility and, most importantly, as a valued individual. He would always lift them up. I wanted to make sure that in my own leadership, I wasn’t just ticking a box through mentoring, but that I was really helping my team and each individual grow. I really have tried to do things a bit differently from my first experiences in the workforce.”
Changing things up, while still respecting those who have paved the way is Huw’s approach too: “Cookie-cutter approaches of ‘this is how you do it’, just aren’t helpful. There are frameworks, of course, and there are reasons why certain frameworks are in place, but millennials are beginning to challenge that thinking.
I see great leaders really considering the nuances, rather than only the big, radical changes. Staying in touch with your team, understanding their perspectives and feelings — it all means you can empower them to rise up. Teams aren’t looking homogenous anymore and that’s a good thing. Diversity is where strong teams lie and great ideas can come from anywhere.”
A force for change still needs support
Young leaders might be a driving change in the workforce, changing the way we think and operate, but if your organisation loves the way young leaders think, they need to support their growth and their leadership journey.
Huw says it’s all about giving rising leaders a voice. “Millennial leaders have a new perspective that add diversity to a leadership team and business, organisations can encourage and facilitate this conversation to ensure they have the best collective thinking of their team”
It’s all about moving away from a fixed mindset and into a growth mindset, Adam says. “You don’t want people in your organisation to be scared to share ideas. Your team should know that their values are important and they won’t be shut down. Most people can be sorted into those who have a fixed mindset or those who have a growth mindset. More and more young leaders are bringing in a growth mindset approach and people who have been in the same business for 10 to 20+ years are now being taught by younger leaders who are challenging the way things could be done, whether more efficiently, effectively or creatively.
You shouldn’t prohibit creativity or provide limited resources based on the company’s agenda. The bottom line isn’t always the most important thing anymore. Fulfilled, happy, creative and diverse teams are high on the agenda and they don’t magically appear as the resultof a fixed mindset.”
What do rising leaders need to know?
We asked Huw and Adam what their top 3 pieces of advice would be for young leaders as they navigate leadership.
- Embrace creativity, think outside the box and outside your intended ‘career path’. Don’t take no for an answer if it’s something you’re really passionate about.
- Keep learning — you can learn as little or as much as you like with the resources available online through YouTube and LinkedIn Learning. Carve your own path, keep learning and seek out new ways to approach things.
- Get a coach outside of your business — having that external perspective is crucial. Getting an external view on your development means you won’t be prohibited due to a company plan, red-tape or restrictions, instead the coach will focus on you and only you.
- Listen first and listen often — don’t think you have the answer before you’ve listened to the problem.
- Don’t be afraid to remodel or challenge the framework to suit your specific situation — frameworks are great tools to give you a starting point, but need to be constantly re-evaluated based on current needs.
- Evolve your perspective — enhancing your creativity to solve problems is supported by the lens you view it through. You can evolve your perspective through speaking and networking with people of diverse backgrounds and industries and really understanding how and why they approach different topics.
If you need that external perspective in your own leadership or you’re a millennial leader needing some support, People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.