The Millennial View: 6 steps to help you lead millennials

Over the last century the role of manager has shifted monumentally, from an authoritarian figure overseeing employees’ tasks in the 1920s to an enabler, who inspires and empowers their team to perform at their best, innovate and improve. And over the last decade or so our workforce has also changed dramatically; in just a few years millennials will be the dominant force in workplaces around New Zealand.

Our focus this month is on engaging our next generation of leaders: millennials. With a little help from our panel of millennial contributors, we uncovered what these changes mean for leaders today.


1. Show us who you really are

First up, in contrast to the buttoned-up management style of the past, millennials now expect leaders to show their softer side. We want to know your purpose and what drives you. We want to know that you are as driven by the impact your work has on the community as it does on the bottom line. Likewise, we expect you to take an interest in us beyond what we contribute in financial terms.

2. Walk the Talk

It’s about more than just telling us what matters to you; you need to show us too. As Spark MD Simon Moutter explained at a Global Women event recently, it comes down to ‘the ways we speak, interact and behave’.


3. Be a coach, not a judge

Our millennials look to their leaders for guidance on their development, ‘we expect honest clear feedback,’ said one. This is about more than judging our technical abilities, but looks at our wider career journey.


4. Serve to lead

The panel endorsed the servant leadership style, where the leader works to develop his or her people and is focused on what they can do for others. ‘We expect leaders to support and serve their teams and not be insecure or ego based,’ a contributor explained.


5. Understand we have lives away from work

Flexibility is a given for our millennials, whether that’s flexibility of working location, total hours worked, or the timing of that work. Our millennials will give it 100% when they’re working, but have certain expectations when it comes to work-life balance. ‘Understand that we cannot always answer emails or messages in the evening etc and that we need time to be disconnected, which can be so hard in this day and age.’ Again, one of the best ways to support this is to walk the talk, for example by ‘leaving loudly’ when you head off for your own personal commitments.


6. Don’t forget millennial men

Finally, while we’re all on board with the focus on diverse and inclusive workplaces, be sure you aren’t missing out the men. ‘Parents’ are not just ‘mums’. So engage millennial men in shaping family policies. The millennial age group is about to become the major force in our organisations, and our next generation of leaders. ‘Companies that engage young men in helping to break the glass ceiling will not only build a stronger culture and improve their operational and financial performance, they will also differentiate themselves in the recruiting marketplace and develop a richer pipeline of talent,’ says global management consulting firm BCG.