As a Boomer leader, one of my greatest joys is to engage with emerging leaders. The energy and excitement that younger men and women bring to the table is a vital part of my personal leadership strategy; they keep me fresh and continually learning. Young leaders provide necessary elements to our processes that cannot be found elsewhere. From a practical point of view, if I hope to impact the future, I must connect now with those who will actually be leading in the future. On a personal note, when I was a young leader, older leaders poured so much into me that I would be remiss to not pay back what was provided for me.
When I connect with a young leader, I look for at least 6 things. Among them are:
Energy, cultural relevance, creativity. cooperation, commitment and stability.
Energy: it’s no secret that organizations need the vitality that millennial leaders bring to the table. There is no substitute for the intensity that youth provides. Our organizations need the pop that Millennials bring.
Cultural relevance: It’s nearly impossible for seasoned leaders to stay current with the nuances of our rapidly changing world. One way to do this is to remain in close contact with empowered young leaders. Nothing is more embarrassing than using a word that used to mean one thing but now means something completely different! When I am with younger leaders, I love to just observe them as they communicate. This helps keep me in the loop and remain relevant to the culture we are serving.
Creativity: Successful organizations utilize the services of people who think in new and fresh ways. What works in communications today more than likely won’t tomorrow. Today’s emerging leaders bring innovative and visionary ways of seeing the world. I need that in my life and in my leadership.
Cooperation: I am looking for young leaders to cooperate with the processes in which I am involved. While it’s not reasonable to demand unquestioned alliance, those whose demeanor is one of collaboration and contribution make incredibly valuable team members that we can’t function without.
Commitment: One of the biggest struggles in leadership is to identify people who will stick around. No one likes the idea of investing significant resources of time and energy into a relationship that can be quickly abandoned. I am looking for Millennial leaders who know how to stick with a worthwhile relationship.
Stability. A common criticism of younger leaders is that they are unstable and flighty. I think this is an unfair critique. There are many young leaders who can be counted upon. They are steady, dependable and trustworthy. I look for that when I am engaged with emerging leaders so that their impact can remain long-term.
Young leaders make me better and I hope I make them better. Of course, there are many more attributes that we should value when considering young leaders. Most of all, I hope that we can make more progress toward multigenerational leadership structures that will change the world!
(This article is also published in https://www.forgelead.org/single-post/2017/09/05/6-Things-I-Look-For-in-Millennial-Leaders.)