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What leadership means to Millennials right now


Generation X and Baby Boomers are ceding more economic control to Millennials than ever and with young people graduating and joining the workforce, we have no choice but to watch the world change drastically from the one our parents grew up in.

In many ways, Millennials have a brand new perspective on the concept of leadership – not just at work, but also across society as a whole. We delve into the two kinds of Millennial leadership and what they might mean for our future workforce.

Leadership of the self

It goes without saying that Millennials are at the forefront of the entire leadership movement and the most prominent part of such a transition is in the leadership of the self.

Though not a novel idea, Millennials are certainly giving it new life. The objective is that we become more in touch with who we are as human beings, our abilities and what we want to achieve. As the world becomes more interdependent, it also becomes more decentralised. In this way, we are less likely to work for companies with singular physical presences.

Along with this idea comes a need to self-educate and be self-sustainable. Such isn’t really a learned skill, but rather, a state we choose to enter, where we think more deeply about our behaviour and how we would like to improve. In addition to formal education, we must also commit ourselves to the responsibility of self-educating.

Those who contributed to coining the term “self-leadership”, Bryant and Kazan, said that in the 21st Century, “training people to become self-leaders – team members who set priorities, take initiative, and solve problems – is more important than ever.”

Millennials aren’t the first generation to apply such thinking at work, however they do represent one of the greatest transfers of economic power the world has ever seen.

Technology has allowed us more time for self-improvement. More free time means more thought on self-directed learning.

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Leading others

We must also learn how to lead others. Though we have more access to knowledge than any other generation ever, it could be at the expense of some of our leadership skills.

For instance, Millennials’ research skills are incomparably good. Known for thinking out of the box and refusing to conform to conventional thinking, one thing they might not be as great at is the interpersonal element of communication.

Though brilliant gatherers of information, spending so much time with a screen could be diminishing our social skills. Researchers have even claimed that Millennials are disadvantaged at work, when compared to other generations, as they don’t have the confidence needed to make personal connections. Communication, which is, itself a leadership, may be declining.

Millennials aspire to become leaders and in large numbers too. Research by WorkplaceTrends.com showed that 91% of them actually wish to become leaders. An additional 43% feel motivated enough to inspire leadership in other people.

Does shared leadership = shared prosperity?

Millennials are certainly prepared to bring their own expertise to small companies, NGOs and huge organisations alike and they are searching for leadership roles. They make us question traditional definitions of leadership itself and though it is somewhat self-serving, this promising group may already be shifting the way toward something greater.

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