Corporations are struggling to recruit and retain these “out of the box” thinkers. Business leaders are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to motivate and work with this group of young adults who dress to please themselves and have no need for office desks, traditional work habits or political ladder climbing. We hear a lot about what’s wrong with the new brand of leaders that are coming from the millennial generation, but what about what's right with millennials?
I sat down with a group of bright, highly motivated millennial leaders at one of their favorite "earth to plate" restaurants to discuss leadership. When I asked them to describe what characteristics a great leader should possess, this is what they said.
Jesse - "I think that a leader should be able to make things happen. They should see the things that need to be done and be pro-active about doing them."
Jared - "I think that a good leader provides an environment that affirms his team and allows for the team members to work in their strengths while being aware of their weaknesses. Allowing someone to understand their strengths and weaknesses is essential.”
Will - "I think giving someone the freedom to fail and to learn from that failure is incredibly important. That kind of leader promotes trust."
Lauren- "It is important that a leader knows what she doesn’t know. Someone who has to have all the answers demonstrates an insecure leader. Knowing when to ask for help and allow others to contribute is a trait of a good leader."
Taking personal responsibility, executing, affirming, building trust, and demonstrating humility: these are age-old qualities that every good leader needs in to order to be successful. These wise young leaders are not changing the values that are essential for leadership. They understand the need for strong and effective men and women who are willing to invest in others. When we strip away our comfort zones of tradition and our "that's the way we've always done it" attitude, we find a generation of growing and driven leaders who are poised to do great things for our culture, our country and our world.
By the way, I enjoyed my “earth to table” water buffalo sandwich…. which tasted an awful lot like a good old hamburger. Choose to invest in, and learn from, this young innovative generation and you will make a difference!