How will tomorrow’s leaders differ from today's?

Posted on Friday, October 20, 2017 by The MSS teamNo comments



Millennials are the rising generation of business leaders. Born from the early 1980s through the 1990s, these are the people who will lead and shape corporations in the coming years.

But how will they differ from the leaders who have gone before?  

Former Aetna CEO Ron Williams, who runs the consultancy RW2 Enterprises, teamed up with The Conference Board to produce a report on millennials’ views of leadership earlier this year.

Perhaps surprisingly, the research found that millennials do not value technology skills more highly than older leaders, do not rank social values more highly, and are not more eager to change jobs.

However, crucially the report suggests that millennial leaders and older leaders have very different views about the role of the CEO.

Asked to identify the talents which would be most important to a CEO in ten years’ time, millennial leaders rated interpersonal skills as the top priority, while current CEOs ranked critical thinking, business and management skills, and stakeholder management as most important.

For millennials, the ideal leader is an inspiring coach, who communicates well and empowers others to be involved in decision making.

The report suggests this could mean trouble ahead in our corporations, with CEOs grooming leaders who share their traditional management-centric views, while millennial leaders will develop themselves to be more focused on the interpersonal skills, which they value.

Some claim that this person-focused attitude makes millennials timid leaders because their egalitarian and non-confrontational attitude makes it harder for them to communicate their vision – if they even have a vision.

Some say leaders need to lead, and always make the final decisions, but there are undeniably advantages to the millennials’ way of making your employees feel valued and motivated.

Indeed, business strategist and coach Kavita Sahai has highlighted four traits that make millennials more effective leaders:

  1. Constant communication

    The generation that grew up with social media places a high value on communication, to the point that a huge majority said they would prefer to work for a company that prioritises open communication over perks like gym memberships and free food.


  2. Authenticity

    Millennials stick to their values, and Sahai suggests millennial managers should be so open that they are willing to expose their vulnerabilities to employees as a way of engendering mutual trust and inspiring trust and openness in the team.


  3. Value alignment

    Millennials aren’t happy blindly following instructions – they want to understand why they need to do certain tasks. Millennial leaders see the importance of making company and team goals as relevant not only to the team but to each individual within it.


  4. Challenging the status quo

Far from being timid leaders, Sahai says millennials are keen to question how things are done. They want to make an impact, she says, so developing the skill to respectfully and effectively challenge the status quo will be important for millennial leaders.

Whichever way we define millennials – and the distinction is sometimes made between Generation Y and Generation X – it is clear that their attitudes to many aspects of life are quite distinct from what has gone before.

The differences may not always be the ones we expect, but certain values and their appreciation of open communication suggest millennial leaders will be very different, and that means the organisations they lead will change too.


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