Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources wrote this very interesting post about What Millennials Want in Leadership. It is an article based on research that he and his son Jess are including in a book that will be released in January 2011 called The Millennials.
First of all, I am not born in that 1980-2000 time frame that he states, but I hold a mirror up and see myself in much of the findings. If you know me and have had conversations with me in the past about leadership as a topic, you’ve heard these same feelings discussed.
1. Mentoring. This generation has great respect for those older than they are. Most of them have good relationships with their parents. They have learned from older people all their lives, and they don’t want to stop now. They want to be led and taught in their places of work, in their churches, and in their families. They particularly want to learn from couples who have had long and successful marriages. Many Millennials see such examples as heroes to emulate.
Gosh this is me. I’ve longed for mentors. I’ve had some great men in my life that have been mentors. Many of them from Howard’s True Value where I first started working in High School. I had ample time to take in their character and integrity, watch them deal with other people, watch their marriages, see them in church aside from the weekly grind.
I’ve had my own father and my father in law who have been incredible examples of how to live and work.
I’m not doing this enough. I have to make a better effort to mentor those around me and those who are younger than me.
2. Gentle spirit. This category is easier to describe by what Millennials do not want in leaders. Divisive, loud, and acrimonious persons turn them off. They loathe politicians and political pundits who scream at each other. They are leaving churches to some extent because they see many Christian leaders as negative and prone to divisiveness. They are repulsed by business leaders with harsh and autocratic spirits.
Dead on. I can’t say or add anything. This is an issue that must be addressed.
3. Transparency and authenticity. I wish Jess and I had counted the number of times that Millennials used the word “real” to describe leaders they want to follow. As one Millennial told us, her generation “can smell phony and pretentiousness a mile away.” They don’t want phony; they want authentic. They don’t want pretentious; they want transparent.
How many times have I used the word Authentic when describing leadership or lack of leadership. I’m not always the best at doing this either. I try, but this is just another reminder to me that I have a lot that I am doing wrong and need to improve.
4. Integrity. The Millennials are weary of politicians who don’t keep promises. They are tired of Christian leaders who fail basic moral standards. They are fed up with business leaders who are more concerned about personal gain than serving others. They want leaders with integrity.
See I even mentioned this in response to the topic of mentoring. It is very important.
I do think that one thing is missing (well a lot more… and I’m sure it will be in the book) Millennials want praise. They value praise and encouragement more than gain. Often it is overlooked and believed that this generation doesn’t care, but oh so wrong.
This topic is very closely tied to what Seth Godin says in his book, Tribes. When we find this type of leadership, this millennial generation will sacrifice much for mission and vision. We’ll stay late and ensure that passion and enthusiasm is poured into our work. We’ll also bring those around us into the process. You won’t have to ask us, it will be a natural response.