One thing that is clear to me about the youngest generation in the workplace is that they are poised to revolutionize the way we engage each other in the world of work. In conversations I have with many in that generation, they see through the flaws and pretenses the basic four active leadership styles exhibit. They see the way the autocrats shut people down in order to be in total control. They are frustrated with the bureaucrats need to run a tight ship and put everything and everyone in a box. While the achievers seem interesting at first, the way they feel used and taken for granted with little recognition leaves them feeling resentful and frustrated. The collaborators work better with the Millennials, yet they take far too long to make decisions and things happen, which leaves the Millennials confused and anxious.
The older generations have been dealing with these four styles for so long we have been numbed down to just accepting that’s the best were going to have, and settle into ways of working that keeps us avoiding, pleasing, pretending, acquiescing, pandering, and hiding that makes us 75% disengaged in our work (Gallop). Disengaged workers generate far less profit, create too few new opportunities, aren’t interested in productivity enhancements and opt-out of problem-solving situations at a time when our economy and world need new, fresh ideas and energy in order to solve big problems and make our organizations run at optimum.
Millennials are entering the workforce in numbers larger than the Boomers ever did, and are crashing into the leadership styles that prevent, diminish, or disincentivize them from bringing their best to their jobs. They come into the workforce better educated, more tech savvy, and with higher expectations than any other group prior – they bring fresh energy like no other. They want to be part of something interesting, something bigger than themselves. They want to collaborate, be heard, and participate in bringing in new initiatives. They still have the youthful creativity and adaptability that can drive innovation and change. Yes, like all new workers, they have flaws and areas needing maturation and development, yet no matter what your opinion and experience of them is, they indeed are the leaders of our tomorrows. For that very reason we must wake up and co-create a new form of leadership that they can embrace and be successful.
I have worked with and coached leaders who have evolved themselves and model this next generation of leadership. I call this “Authentic Leadership,” and I know this will revolutionize our workplaces and our world, because it has demonstrated its efficacy in organizations in present time. While anyone can potentially become an authentic leader, it’s not for everyone. This type of leadership goes beyond barking orders, intimidation, leading by fear and pushing people beyond the limits and expectations of reason. This type of leader isn’t stuck in the old beliefs that people are naturally lazy, need to be told what to do, or are just part of a bigger numbers game for someone else’s benefit.
This type of leader is grown from the deep-rooted premise that people are inherently good, that they want to do good and great work, and be a part of a healthy, thriving, prosperous entity that honors, respects and cares for all the people aligned. Authentic leaders build ‘people-centric’ organizations, not because it feels good, but because it’s the right thing to do, and those kinds of organizations deliver far superior results than their competitors who are numbers and profit-centric (Firms of Endearment). Authentic leaders know what people need to thrive at work, and when people know they are perceived as the number-one priority, they are much more open to bring new ideas to the table, to work together better to quickly and sustainably resolve problems, are much more engaged and generate higher levels of performance and profitability.
The key characteristics I see that Authentic Leaders possess are:
- They are more self-aware, conscious human beings. They have taken the time to develop their ability to self-reflect and self-analyze from a non-ego perspective. They express openness, vulnerability and trust that welcomes others to bring their better selves to the table.
- They embody the facets of authenticity, which are: mindfulness, emotional intelligence, integrity, values-driven, bring their passions, know their strengths and weaknesses, self-responsible and accountable, and have the ability to self-monitor their emotions and willingly clean-up any messes they make.
- Through their own journey within themselves, they are much more aware and in-tune with all other people. They know how people tick, and have become more accepting of diversity and more open to things outside their ability to control.
- They have the ability of insight, see a bigger, brighter future, and can enroll, inspire and influence others in their initiatives to aspire and achieve things not previously thought possible.
- They see the intricacies of all the systems in play, not just the technological or mechanical, but the informational and human systems that comprise our everyday world. They take great joy in orchestrating and integrating all the energies that an organization requires, and have become adept at offering a loving hand that guides without manipulation.
- They come from a conscious leaders’ perspective and build organizations that are purpose-driven to realize something beyond financial gain. They attract like-minded people to build cultures and leadership systems that are more fully alive and better adapt to our fast-changing world.
- Authentic leaders care. They care about people, all stakeholders, and model the new form of ‘loving-leadership’ every day. They share, be it information, power, or profits. They know that by being more ‘servant-leader’ oriented, that people willingly follow and offer so much more of themselves to the benefit of all involved in the organization.
- They create teams, organizations and communities that generate well-being, happiness, fulfillment, and foster a deep sense of significance for all involved.
It is not an easy path to becoming a more authentic person and leader. Yet, the alternatives are daunting. Life as it is / has been, OR life lived well with more awareness, connectivity, joy, peace, accomplishment, and love – those are the choices!
My sense is that the younger Millennial generation is wonderfully suited to choose authenticity as their leadership style, rather than the old ego-centric options. I can see them in countless ways driving the evolution of our teams, groups and organizations as they bring this fresh, human-affirming way of leading into our world.
The impact of the Millennials not taking on authentic leadership consciousness is that more of the same will ensue; in fact, more of the same will continue the constriction and decline of the human spirit, and contribute to the growing, unresolved problems of our times. It always comes down to choice – my hope is more Millennials are waking up and getting real with themselves and others, which is the first step toward creating a new day. I see this new generation leading in ways not witnessed before, and that will make all the difference!
We don’t have a choice – it‘s really time to evolve, consciously evolve, our leadership in all areas. Are you ready and willing to become the person and leader you have inside of you?