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Gearing Up for Millennial Leadership

Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Fanslow wants to know how your business is preparing for future leadership? How are you gearing up for millennial leadership?

Carol and I have been working on a big research project this year:  How the Millennial Functions in the Work Place.

Carol recently shared an article with me from SHRM written by Bill Leonard called

‘What Are the World’s Most Admired Leadership Traits?’ 

In his article Leonard shared that a training session by Pris Nelson and Ed Cohen led them to some very interesting data when it comes to leadership traits among the generations. Take the time to read the article; I have shared the link at the end of this article. There is a lot of information in the article but the one thing that I want to expand on a little more is the differences in those traits and what that means for leadership in the future. 

From their study of 2,800 business professionals (122 Countries) from all four generations:

Silent Generation (those born before 1946)
Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1965)
Generation X (those born between 1965-1982)
Millennial (those born after 1982)

So Nelson and Cohen, “identified the following top five most admired global leadership traits.”

Ability to inspire

What they found that across the four generations most of the traits were found to be similar. However, where they found the biggest difference was among the Millennial generation. They ranked “ambition and determination” in the top five…while no other generation did. And this was even more surprising to me…the Millennials did not feel that “honesty and courage” were among the top five traits of a leader.

In the industry of business strategy and marketing strategy understanding how the millennial mindset is much different than even the Generation X mindset is so important for business leaders. As Nelson and Cohen remind us, “this is significant because within five years, Millennials are set to become the most dominant generational group in the workplace.”




So when we look at the top five admired global traits for the Millennial Group we see this:

  1. Ambition
  2. Forward thinking
  3. Determination
  4. Ability to inspire
  5. Intelligence

With courage and honesty totally removed from that list…you get a much different image of leadership for the future.

I think that it is important, in any company / business, to understand the culture and align the leadership behaviors according to that culture. It’s about listening to your employees and creating an environment where they feel empowered and recognized.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we know that Millennials look for positions that afford them flexibility in work schedules such as telecommuting and even great paid parental leave policies.

As technology continues to evolve in the workplace having a leader who is ambitious, forward thinking, and determined will create a culture that the Millennial is more apt to gravitate toward.

However, as a Generation X’er myself…I have to believe that courage is always an admirable trait for any leader and a must…and honesty…I don’t care what generation you are from…honesty is important in every aspect of our lives. Just because it’s not listed in the top five, well…it should always be a given!

Article Information: What Are the Most Admired Leadership Traits? By Bill Leonard