Let’s first be clear: leaders don’t need the word “manager” in their job title.
Leaders are in any position – one with implied authority or one with organic influence. Every employee has one or both. This post’s message, however, is written for the Millennial manager who embraces the role of leader.
Let’s also be clear on the definition of leader. I’ll quote one of my favorite artists, Hugh MacLeod, for a definition.
“I cannot tell you what to do. I can only inspire you what to do.”
So, working from this definition, Millennial managers have some work ahead of them.
Their leadership deficit is not entirely because of their level of experience, albeit this is a factor. It’s more because Millennial managers have to help undo years of crappy leadership rooted in outdated beliefs about the role of leadership and the place of people in our organizations.
Simply stated: Millennial managers have to help lead the way to transform our work environments to places where employees derive joy from their work. Millennial managers need to help lead the way to create optimism in our workplaces.
This is massive. It can only be dismantled, however, one revolution at a time, in each workplace.
What, specifically, is needed from Millennial leaders? Lots. Here’s a list of four essential skills we need our Millennial leaders to hone and apply adeptly to help make our workplaces great.
Observe and Then Respond
Before responding to a problem, or actions or words from another, stop yourself. Don’t let your impulses move your mouth and say something you’ll regret.
The tension in our workplaces today is already at a fever-pitch. Apply a little ninja-philosophy and remain calm. Set the tone in your interactions and become known for calmly observing a situation and not responding angrily, hastily or rudely.
Know Your Stand
On the whole, previous generations of leaders were not groomed to know their personal values. It was often regarded as “that touchy-feely crap.” Personal values are our anchors. They help to guide our actions and decisions and to stay true to what we stand for.
Executives at Enron showed us what happens when we lose site or never know our personal values.
Lead Virtual Teams
Despite Yahoo and Best Buy’s decisions to eliminate or greatly reduce the availability of the option for their employees to work remotely, virtual teams are more common today. With advances in mobile technology and relevant applications, Millennials are again positioned to show us how to deepen trust, build supporting systems that help virtual teams thrive despite the infrequent IRL face-to-face interactions.
Leverage social technologies like Google Hangouts or even Skype to pull a team together for celebrations, important meetings, or to brainstorm solutions to a challenging problem. Use productivity tools with social elements like Asana that help people collaborate more timely and efficiently.
Human beings are social creatures. Putting up barriers like cubicle walls have lured us to believe we cannot be productive without separation from one another. Time and again I’ve seen employees adapt and embrace changes to more collaborative work spaces without an office Berlin Wall.
Use the work environment, technology and your innate desire to connect with others to foster a collaborative team norm.
Millennial leaders are uniquely positioned to show us Gen Xers, Boomers, and even a smattering of employees from the Silent Generation how work gets done in the 21st century.
We just need more Millennials to step up and claim their rightful place as manager leaders.
About the Author: Shawn Murphy is a writer, and the owner and principal consultant at Achieved Strategies, as well as a co-founder of Switch and Shift. He passionately explores the space where business and humanity intersect. As a promoter of workplace optimism, Shawn believes work can be a source of joy. He is top-ranked on Huffington Post and HR Examiner. Follow Shawn on Twitter!