Millenials are rapidly taking over the work force from the baby boomers and generation X that came before them -‘threatening’ the workplace intergenerational harmony that once existed. Now at roughly 25%, experts say in just 3 years (by 2020), 50% of the workforce will be comprised entirely of millennials. Also called the digital generation or generation Y, they are the demographic cohort born at the dawn of the millennium (approx. 1985 to 2000). Typically, they are right now -at High School, undergraduate or post-graduate level, or are young to mid-level professionals -in their late teens, 20s or early 30s. They are generally more ‘tech savvy and culturally liberal’ having been the first generation to grow up in a world of increased familiarity-with -and instant access to -mobile gadgets, broadband, social media, internet of things (IoT), and other forms of media and digital technologies; a world like never before imagined -by prior generations, of increasingly liberal approaches to economics, politics and culture.
It may be subjective and downright risky to generalise as each millennial is uniquely influenced by his or her own background and current circumstances. However, marketers have successfully used intergenerational marketing techniques to target them as a market segment or ‘cultural group’,
generalising on their culture (characteristics, needs, behaviours and values); so surely, we can borrow from that understanding to evaluate the ‘broad’ leadership style lessons required to supervise and manage their performance in a classroom, school, project team or workplace setting?
THE LEADERSHIP AND WORLD VIEW OF MILLENIALS CAN BE RADICALLY DIFFERENT
We adapt Gert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions framework, transcending its international application; to describe, measure and explain six broad distinctions between the millennial generation as a cultural group, and other generations, namely: Authority gap, Humanity, Social status orientation, Time orientation, Risk appetite, and Contentment:
Hofstede called this -power distance, measuring the extent to which the less powerful (followers), accept and expect that authority and power are unequally distributed in their team, organisation or society. A long or high authority gap indicates that hierarchy is accepted by followers without question; a short gap signifying that people can question authority and attempt to distribute power equally.
Millennials particularly have a short authority gap; having grown up in a much more liberal world with abundant information –a google away! They can find, connect, interact and engage with friends and fans; business, political and other world leaders -via social media, a mere wish for prior generations -whilst growing up. Partly as a result, they are far less loyal to any leader or organisation, far less comfortable working with traditional management structures and organisational silos, and far more ready to bypass protocols to gain direct access to -and question -authority. To them, legitimate or formal authority –typically derived from the position you occupy over them – as a source of power is not as prized. Unless millennials are fully appreciative of the expertise required to deliver on your leadership responsibility and accountability, they will be job hoppers -in search of an even quicker career jump; to escape what they consider to be boring or ‘not cool’ routine work lower down the hierarchy –yet this is where the foundation for a strong future career is laid!
Humanity (or Ubuntu):
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