February 25, 2014
What are the leadership styles of millennials? Lead me, follow me or get out of my way. They're educated, collaborative, tech-savvy and curious.
"Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way." -- General George Patton
The leadership styles of millennials can be traced back to the beginning of the 21st century. Workplaces experienced a shortage of leaders due to recruiting wars for talent, the retirement of many baby boomers, changes in the nature of work and poor organizational practices in identifying, selecting and developing talent.
As Bersin states in his most recent report, we are actively developing a new generation of leaders. However, it remains a question whether we have the tools and data to improve and develop effective leadership skills. At the same time, we are about to reach the age of millennials being the largest employee demographic in the workplace. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials and they are increasingly acquiring leadership roles.
"As a leader, even each small choice you make has great impact and determines outcomes for you, your people, your organization, your community, and for the world as a whole,” says Lolly Daskal. From Jack Welch and Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg there are many leadership types based on the leader's character. Having said that, there are specific patterns in leadership attitudes that allow us to group these into defined leadership styles.
According to Kurt Lewin there are three leadership styles:
Mark Weber introduced another leadership style:
And later, Bernard M. Bass expanded the transactional leadership style and added another type of leadership:
In 2017 Lolly Daskal introduced 7 leadership archetypes and their shadows in her book 'The Leadership Gap: What Gets between You and Your Greatness'. According to Daskal, everyone develops their own leadership style based around multiple archetypes that can change over time. Her book can be used as a tool for personal leadership evaluation as well as a manual for personal growth.
The archetypes (and their shadows) she identified are:
"He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander." -- Aristotle
Before we go to the leadership styles of the millennial generation it is worth mentioning some of their key characteristics:
The above characteristics are close to the Participative (Democratic) leadership style. Specifically, millennials tend to:
In addition to an inclusive leadership style, the characteristics below are common amongst millennial employees:
In building on these traits as they move to a leadership role, millennials tend to use these values to mould their leadership style.
Millennial managers strive to create inclusive workplaces where everyone can share their opinions and collaborate rather than focus on hierarchical roles. As deep generalists — not specialized in only one area but having a broad knowledge of various topics — millennials are able to oversee a variety of employees and recognize the talents and skills of directs reports from different backgrounds, thus building strong and cohesive teams.
Their tech-savviness allows millennial managers to direct a constant stream of communication with ease, being used to various communication channels and being immediate responders. With this in mind, they also provide constant continuous feedback to their teams and colleagues; facilitating online tools and abandoning traditional annual reviews.
As digital natives, millennials are comfortable with dealing with large amounts of data and using them to make decisions. Able to measure anything, they will evaluate their teams based on the data-driven performance results, especially considering the growing number of contract and remote employees.
Last but not least, company culture and social responsibility are essential to millennials and it strongly affects where they choose to work. It's therefore becoming increasingly important for a company to have a well-established focus on culture and to communicate clearly its mission, in order to attain and retain young talent. Want to know more about the qualities of a good leader? Read our article highlighting the most important characteristics of a good manager.
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