Leadership in This Millennial Age

ww-animal-ears-fennec-fox.adapt.945.1Millennial is no longer a Demographic. Millennial is, rather, a Way of Thinking, Seeing and Doing. We would all do well to ride this wave, embrace the dynamic and evolve our methodologies…and evolve ourselves in the process.

For decades…for ever, actually…effective leaders have known that one of the most important tenets, virtually the most important First Step of Leadership, is Listening. Long before Deciding and immensely potent in inspiring and empowering team members, staff and colleagues is the act of having Listened and Fully Heard as the first step in any process.

Any process.

This is Nothing New. Socrates was and is an iconic Listener; gauging and engaging his students from the start and immersing them in the process of growing knowledge – theirs and his own.

Even Odysseus listened to all of Penelope’s suitors…before slaying them. (Coming Soon: “Know Your Audience & Know Your Enemies.”)

connundrum_1200x675_hero_focus_0317Participation in Creating Solutions

With the arrival and advent of the broadly-defined (and ofttimes maligned) “Millennial” since the turn of the century, there has been a tectonic shift in the way people will accept being “led.” Expectations of being involved in the assessment of a situation or project and contributing to the addressing of it, of being respected as individuals and participants in solution-crafting – for what each brings to the table throughout the process – has evolved the dynamic into the Collaborative Leadership that is becoming the effective norm. 

So, what does that mean?

Most all people come to the workbench with a set of skills, talents and preconceptions. All of these factor in the dynamic of assessing and addressing objectives. Assuming there is only One Way to accomplish any set of objectives is, any more, fallacious and runs the very real risk of disengagement. While there may be The Way This Has Best Worked in the Past; that ain’t necessarily the Best Way to Do It; even if that is the way a given Leader may have done it, historically.

Today’s creative and professional thinkers want to contribute to and participate in the solutions they may be expected to execute. Without such engagement, the resultant propensity will be to view what is levied or decided for them as irrelevant to them; the absence of engagement begets the absence of respect.

Y’gotta open it up. Know who is at the table and what experience and POV each represents. Lay out the parameters and objectives of a given project and open it to exploration by the team before attempting to lock a course of action.

People want to be part of creating the solution, not simply to be the executors of someone else’s vision or priorities, and not expected to do it the way someone has done it before just because s/he’s been successful in doing it that way. That is the old way, born in the industrial age of factories with assembly lines of workers as simple cogs in the machinery.

This is old-fashioned, paternalistic thinking and simply will not fly in the Millennial Age.

team-brainstormingWhile the way things have been done, historically, may have worked and worked well; the assumption that This is The Only Way or inherently even the best way is simply not embraced by those comprising a greater and growing percentage of the professional resources each day.

Published before in this space is the theory that people, having been and felt fully heard throughout a given process are far more likely to accept, embrace and support the path and solution ultimately taken than if they are simply directed to do something a given way.

More salient, however, is the fact that through such a process all at the table are enlightened to other possibilities; something that virtually always evolves a preconceived or envisioned course of action or solution in unexpected and often profoundly nuanced ways.

Everyone listens, everyone learns, a pathway becomes clear before decisions are made.

This is the expectation of Millennial Thinkers.

Include them in the process. You will learn: They will learn. Success will be more readily grasped and realized.

IMHO.

Still popular throughout the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies, “IMHO : Creating Compelling Experience” remains a free download from the Apple bookstore and iTunes. Seriously: Free. IKR?! Read it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/imho/id555219645?mt=11 ]