Building Next Gen Leaders: Turn Negative Millennial Stereotypes into Business Benefits

By: Danita Bye

Millennials often get a bad rap in the press. It’s assumed the entire generation is lazy, narcissistic, entitled, and living in their parent’s basement.  Labels are almost always unfair. Even though many of the Millennials I know and work with are amazing people, 60% of the CEOs, leaders, and presidents that responded to our Millennials Survey are worried about working with Millennial leaders. They see a host of negative traits and are seeking leadership development strategies to help turn these characteristics into a business asset.  They are asking, “How can we develop our Millennial leaders to be the star performers that fuel business growth and a healthy business culture?”

It’s a critical issue. With approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day, we are headed for a leadership crisis unless we are proactive. Plus, by 2020, Millennials will be driving the economy and will do so for the 30 more years.

My calling and passion is to energize and equip Christian business leaders with strong moral character to see the incredible stewardship opportunity before them to mentor this generation. So, even if some Millennials we know are narcissistic, entitled and everything else, as followers of Jesus Christ, as leaders and elders, we’ve invited to step up to the plate to disciple and work with this generation of emerging leaders. It’s the test of our generation: What kind of leadership legacy will we leave?

In the ancient world, a great patriarch, Moses, embraced the task and mentored another great leader, Joshua. As we look at today’s chaotic challenges, we know young Christian leaders like Joshua are needed. But remember, we cannot expect an emerging Joshua to lead the charge into the future without there being a Moses to mentor, encourage, and disciple. Will you be a Moses to a Joshua that’s in your sphere of influence or responsibility?

Build Character to Develop Next-Gen Leader Potential

Here’s a startling statistic: 91% of Millennials see themselves as a leader. Some experienced leaders complain, viewing this as a negative, “Millennials walk into a new job expecting to be promoted to manager in the shortest amount of time possible – preferably immediately! Don’t they know they have to pay their dues like I did?”

Wise leaders recognize that they can leverage this leadership self-image during the coaching and mentoring process. Millennial leaders will be open to the opportunities you provide for personal and professional growth. They will also be hungry for leadership experiences, setting the table for one of the most important places for us to focus: character development.

Character has been critical for leadership development throughout the ages. The ancient wisdom found in the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage were derived primarily from Aristotle. These, along with the Church’s three core theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity have stood the test of time. Even in this age of digital disruption – especially during this age of digital disruption, we can garner wisdom from the ancients to mentor up-and-coming leaders.

Taking personal responsibility and encouraging your young leader to take personal responsibility for their own actions is an important area to focus character development mentoring. In our sales consulting work, our data reveals that 60% of sales professionals are prone to playing the blame game, i.e. focusing on the economy, the competition, or the weaknesses of the company for lack of results. They focus on external facts outside of their control, instead of practicing more constructive thinking that focuses on internal strengths.

As we know, this externalized perspective is futile, robbing the complainer of their God-given potential. We must recognize when our up-and-coming leaders are playing this game and challenge them to turn obstacles into an opportunities.

The success of the Moses/Joshua mentoring is rooted in a courageous character core  – they took personal responsibility and were confident in who they were in Christ and what there were called to do as leaders.

Boost confidence by guiding your Millennial towards Core Purpose 

Our culture is in a purpose crisis, evidenced by the millions of readers who have purchased and studied Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. This is true for many Millennials also.

Your emerging leader is looking for leaders and companies that can clearly cast vision on the “why” and “how” of doing the business. How are you helping the world? How are you serving the community? This is an excellent place to create synergy.

In Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next Gen Leader, I highlighted a process, Life’s Core Purpose that is a great coaching and mentoring tool to help Millennials get clarity on their Core Competence (what I’m great at) and Core Passion (what I care about deeply). When understood and integrated, this understanding allows businesses to maximize individual and corporate potential.

You have the opportunity to teach your Joshua-in-training that how they do their “ordinary” work becomes “extraordinary” when they see it as a way to serve their clients and colleagues in a way that honors God.

Bolster Collaboration with Your Millennial to Tap Their Unique Skills and Perspectives

Millennials are seen as “different,” but is that so bad? In fact, in a culture of collaboration, that uniqueness can be a potential strength in your business, providing the competitive edge to tap new markets, develop innovative products and services, and build even better relationships with customers.

One of the keys to building high-performance sales teams and maximizing a sales organization is to identify and leverage their strengths. The first step in our proven process for ramping up a sales team is to take an assessment of the strengths. By valuing, rather than challenging the differences, you can show your emerging leader that you expect great things from him or her. They will live up to your expectations as they bring a competitive advantage with their unique perspectives.

God’s fingerprint is on each of us and he has given us a unique set of skills, talents, strengths, and a unique calling. Ps. 139 (NIV) tells the story of our creation. In verse 14 we read: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.”

This extract from Millennials Matter highlights the importance of collaboration:

“Success is based on all of us working together toward common goals. It requires valuing the unique contribution we each bring to the table, as well as respecting what others bring. This fuels communication and collaboration.”

Who is the Joshua in your life? Is there an emerging leader at work who is a Joshua in need of a Moses? It’s easy to overlook the Joshua when we focus on our own lives. Be intentional to notice the Joshua that God has placed near you in your sphere of influence.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Copyright, Danita Bye, 2018. Published with permission.

Danita Bye, member of Forbes Coaches Council, is a leadership and sales development expert and author of the new book, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.