I’ve been thinking lately about how Millennials will change leadership in the next decade or so. The reality is, we don’t really know how they will lead. The oldest Millennial is about 30 now, and most haven’t been given significant leadership opportunities yet (I don’t count crewchief at a fast food restaurant as significant). But how will they lead?
Millennials value growth opportunities in their lives. They look at their career as an intricate tapestry that will (hopefully) paint a beautiful picture of a life well-lived. They believe that the corporate ladder is actually a labrynth, with no clear linear way to get to the top. And perhaps the top is over-rated anyways. Is a Lexus worth divorce, heartache and heart attacks? (I drive a Saturn, so I really don’t know if it is :-))
This innocent enthusiasm may be dampened by unexpected events in the future (major recession, world war etc…), but I’m not so sure it will. I think the Millennial leaders will force tapestry-type career planning into their followers. They will recruit eclectic interesting people to work for them, that they would want to be part of their social network. They will probably ignore HR’s warnings about fraternizing with the peons they lead, and fraternize anyways. I have no idea how they will fire someone who is also a Facebook friend as well (do you delete them as your FB friend before or after you fire them?). But their intricate abilities to build social networks will create a complex web of business and personal relationships. This web is their lifeline, and I don’t think that will change once they get leadership positions.
The Millennials are going to confound some older followers, but will also provide a refreshing breath of family into the corporate life. They will work with people they enjoy working with, and who they want to be around. If they don’t enjoy that, they will leave, leadership position or not. The Millennial leaders are here, and they may change our perspective on leadership, perhaps just when our society needs a fresh perspective.