Millennials are not only taking over the workforce, they’re quickly stepping into more and more leadership roles. In fact, a 2017 study found that the millennial leadership trajectory is as follows:
2.6 years: entry-level to mid-level
5.3 years: higher mid-level to senior
6.9 years: senior level to c-suite
8.4 years: C-suite to CEO
More millennials are moving into leadership roles, where they can finally execute on visionary ideas and implement change that they wished those who came before them would. Despite the value millennials bring to the workforce, we’re all a work in progress, and becoming a better leader is necessary for many of the millennials who are new to the role.
Keep these ideas in mind as you grow into your leadership position, which bodes well for your career and the organization. You may find that you garner greater respect and get more done as you learn and develop the skills necessary to manage an organization. Read on to find out what you need to do (and ditch) to become a better leader.
Let Go of Fears
Be better: Stop second-guessing yourself.
Fear of personal failure was the number one fear in a 2016 poll of Americans—and for millennials, this fear is often masked as “imposter syndrome.” Imposter Syndrome can be defined as the feeling of being inadequate, despite continued success. A whopping 70% of millennials experience this, in both work and life, but why?
“Millennials might feel Impostor Syndrome more as they’ve entered the workforce at a time of outrageous technological advancements and constant comparison on social media,” says Breena Kerr, of The Hustle.
She continues, “Technology is growing so fast that most of us are learning something new on almost every project we work on. And that can make you feel like you don’t have the expertise you should.”
To be a better millennial leader, you must ditch the fear and find confidence in what you do and channel that when managing employees and making decisions. Trust your intuition and your skills—this is a requirement for leaders who want to see growth and success in their position.
Be better: Find solutions that are effective—not just fast or easy.
A Mckinsey and Company study of 80 organizations around the world, of varying sizes and industries, found that effectiveness was one of the top four attributes of a great leader.
When you focus on being effective, rather than making decisions or problem solving based on what’s easiest or fastest, you become a stronger leader. “Often leaders assume that as long as they have ideas, a vision, and a sense of purpose, that will be enough to lead the way forward. If only it were that easy. In truth, good leaders know the importance of planning and clearly spelling out the path ahead,” says David Grossman, CEO of Grossman Group.
Find the best brainstorming style for you and use that to flesh out ideas fully and effectively. A simple pro’s and con’s list may be all you need to shake out the best solutions.
Be better: Be authoritative and flexible.
Being a leader requires great communication skills and that can be challenging for some millennials. “The real reason millennial leaders struggle to communicate doesn’t lie in their ability to have reasoned, productive exchanges with other people. Instead it lies in their circumstance, the very style of their leadership and their personality,” explains Kimberly Fries, a millennial communication and leadership coach. She breaks it down further, explaining that this struggle with communication comes down to three things:
Their disposition to be diplomatic and non-confrontational
Differences in generational preferences with communication
A credibility problem
To combat these innate issues, focus on communicating clearly and effectively, while embracing the strengths of your employees and maintaining your authority. Be flexible and willing to adapt communication skills as employees need, especially when working with a mixed generational team. For example, some employees will do better with emails and chat, while others need more in-person time; adjust for both to be a better millennial leader.
Be better: Listen attentively.
In a world filled with social media, where we’re surrounded by the perception of who someone is, it’s easy to be inauthentic. Especially in a role of authority, where you want to command the respect that a leadership role commands. Yet, authenticity is critical in business.
When you’re hyper-focused on the image you’re portraying to others, it’s hard to build true and lasting relationships that you need to be successful in business—relationships with mentors, financial advisors and most importantly, with employees:
“Authenticity—both in business and in networking—is important for establishing reciprocal relationships with others ... Long-term, rewarding professional partnerships don’t begin with a selfish attitude,” says Ted Rollins, entrepreneur and Founder of Valeo Groupe.
When you listen, and remain authentic in both your decision-making and interactions with others, you’ll be better at driving the ship.
Keep these ideas in mind as you grow into your role and take steps in your career. Authenticity, effectiveness, communication and confidence are all critical for all high-level roles—both getting and keeping them. When you work toward becoming a better leader, you boost both your career and your position within your current role.
About the Author
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer, content marketing consultant and business owner. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Manta, StartupNation, Glassdoor, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.
This post was published on August 29, 2017, and has since been updated.