How To Lead Millennials Without Losing Your Mind

Photo: Adobe Stock / © AYAimages
Photo: Adobe Stock / © AYAimages

Born in the early 1980's, through the early 2000's, are members of generation Y, what we know as “millennials.” This is the first generation to grow up with the internet, smart phones, and social media.

My son, Kyle, is a millennial and he is a smart, successful sales professional. Several weeks ago, he was home for a few days and we were having a nice conversation as he scanned Amazon to order some new luggage, while also checking in on his email, and texting his brother a quick reply. This is a normal, everyday function for a millennial as they have mastered the art of digital multi-tasking while carrying on a conversation.

The knock on millennials is they are accused of being:

  • Superficial
  • Lazy
  • Disrespectful
  • Lacking personal drive

Many employers complain that their millennials lack the leadership to be proactive, can't handle tough feedback, are impatient and unable to commit, and have a sense of entitlement. Some of these characteristics may be true, but a bit harsh. As a baby boomer generation guy, we earned the reputation as the “me generation” — me before we.

In observing Kyle grow to be very successful in sales, and my Executive Assistant, Jamie, who is an accomplished professional as well, I've created a quick leadership guide to leading millennials:

1.Mentor and coach them up
One of my most successful leadership coaching clients leads a team of six millennial sales professionals. Her formula to success is, “teach and coach, rather than manage.” She also encourages peer-to-peer coaching.

2. Invest in their emotional intelligence
Help them become self-aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses. Provide them with strategies of emotional self-management of cortisol (the stress hormone) and self-regulation, increase communication and social skills for strategic networking, and invest in their personal development.

3. Increase human connection
Digital and smartphone free zones in meetings is a great start. Break bread together, build community and a culture of purpose and vision, reduce email and encourage more calls, and increase human engagement.

4. Offer more opportunities to lead where they are
When my kids were little, Julie and I would say, “Good fall, now try again!” We have to raise leaders. Millennials are the sleeping giants, leaders waiting to be recognized, empowered, and released. Yes, they will fall or fail at times but let's get them leading where they are and speak belief into them. Doing so will help them connect to their greater purpose and lead our companies to greatness.

I'd like to give special recognition to both Kyle and Jamie because they lead by example daily and both inspire me!

Here's to leading millennials!
— Steve

Having coached and trained CEOs, Presidents, professional athletes, and world-class organizations, Steve’s insights have gained a reputation around the world as an authority on high performance leadership, emotional intelligence for exceptional leadership, growing leaders at every level, and accelerated sales success.