Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Leadership and the Millennial Movement

Volume: October 2015

Leadership and the Millennial Movement

As leaders, we are in uncharted territory. We are the first leaders in human history faced with leading four generations in the workplace. There are the Traditionalists (age 71+ and still about 2.5% of the workforce), the Baby Boomers (age 51 – 70 and still a majority of the management-ranks in the U.S.), Generation X (age 36 – 50 and the “latchkey kid” generation), and the Millennials (age 16 – 35 and weaned on technology).

 

The elongated careers of many professionals is a result of medical advances and/or the economic realities associated with the Great Recession. Regardless of cause, the generation bearing the brunt of this career-extension effect is the Millennials. They are competing in a crowded and complex work environment. Yet at 80 million strong, the Millennials are by far the largest generation in the history of the United States. And, they are changing the leadership game.

 

Upcoming Leadership & Sales Events:
Leadership Boot Camp: November 17, 2015

Sales Boot Camp: March 23, 2016

Leadership Development Program (10 sessions): Jan - Mar 2016

Leadership Accelerator (12 sessions): Kicks off January 5, 2016!!

 

So what about today’s leadership landscape? What do Baby Boomer leaders need to realize about Millennials? How can Millennials effectively lead Baby Boomers? What about the monkey in the middle – the GenX leaders? Well, here is my advice regarding the different generations of leaders.

 

Leadership Advice for Baby Boomers Leading Millennials: Understand the Millennial Perspective.
In a world that increasingly relies on technology, Millennials have always known technology and the Internet. They are quick learners who voraciously assimilate information. Millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work. They know they can access any information they want immediately, and they have been taught to question everything. As such, despite your vast amounts of knowledge and experience, you have to prove yourself in their eyes. This is a bitter pill for many boomers. It calls for boomers to use multiple channels of communication, seek to be technologically proficient, and look at performance management from a new perspective. It also calls for boomers to keep their egos in check and open their minds to what they might learn from a younger generation. In the process, a door may open for the Millennials to be receptive to coaching from the Baby Boomers. If you want to avoid the Millennial “job-hopper,” focus on coaching and developing them. As a result, Millennial team members will stay longer, be more productive, and bring a work-life vibe to the workplace that is often quite healthy.

 

Leadership Advice for Millennials Leading Baby Boomers – Muster Patience.
Few boomers come close to understanding technology to the extent that Millennials demand. In addition, few boomers have the Millennials’ voracious appetite for information and ability to blast through content. So why the heck should Millennials even work with Baby Boomers? Well, boomers bring an outstanding mix of experience, work ethic, and grit to the workplace. Plus, many boomers possess wisdom and intuition that is incredibly valuable. Millennials would be wise to listen to the war stories of their boomer direct reports and peers. In the process, Millennial leaders should employ priority management and delegation constructs that subtly assist boomers in understanding the rationales behind Millennial decision-making.

 

Leadership Advice for GenXers Faced with Leading Boomers & Millennials: Duck and Cover
No, no, I do not mean head for the hills and run away. Although at times it does sound appealing. Rather, GenX leaders need to cover the gap between two generations that possess different perspectives. In the process, they need to be flexible in storms or calm weather (just like ducks thrive in rain or sunshine). This calls for GenX leaders to be wizards with collaboration tools like working agreements. The working agreement construct seeks to expand communication by gaining clarity on workplace expectations. In addition, GenX leaders must continually create followership that will expand their credibility with Baby Boomers and Millennial team members alike. The result may not be nirvana. However, it may facilitate a workplace camaraderie that would make the United Nations proud.

 

Bottom Line: Let’s just all get along, shall we? Every generation, just like every individual, brings promise and skills to the table. Look for the best in people and you will find treasure. Know your strengths, and ask others to articulate theirs. Work is simultaneously a long game and a short game. Deliver the best to your team. Be the kind of leader that values the growing diversity of our workplace. There is so much strength. It is right there leaders – staring at you through a fog of misperception.

Until next time, be well.

 

Doug Van Dyke is a Tampa Bay based executive coach, leadership development expert, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching, strategic planning, or to have Doug speak at your next event, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).






 
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