The millennial generation, which covers people currently in their early-20s to late-30s, is on the cusp of taking over leadership positions in companies, in communities, and in society as a whole. This is both an exciting and somewhat terrifying prospect.
When we look at their goals and beliefs, millennials do seem well-suited for leadership positions. For starters, they actively crave those roles, with just over 90% of them wanting to be a leader in the future according to a 2015 study. And overwhelmingly, they want those roles seemingly for the right reasons, being motivated heavily by a desire to empower others as opposed to the attainment of power and wealth for themselves.
However, millennials also appear to be lacking the skills necessary to make those aspirations a reality, at least at the moment. In particular, they are severely lacking in many of the soft skills that are necessities for good leaders to have.
Teaching them those skills should be a priority according to Jay Hart, a successful entrepreneur and the CEO of MCalert. A 30-year veteran of one of the largest Sheriff’s Offices in Florida, former Captain Jay Hart parlayed his business leadership acumen into his policing career, which allowed him to rise through the ranks and positively impact others.
He believes millennials can be molded into successful leaders through some of the following initiatives.
Mentorship and Online Courses
Dealing with millennials often means going the extra mile to meet them on their terms, which current leaders in the workplace are realizing, somewhat to their dismay. Millennials tend to want things their way and will leave a job if it’s not being run how they prefer. Likewise, they want to receive training and growth opportunities on their terms. Jay Hart says these should be conducted through mentorship and online courses, teaching them the skills they need in personalized, low-stress settings that match the way they prefer to consume information and learn new things.
Improving Their Critical Thinking Skills
A lack of critical thinking skills is recognized as one of the biggest areas of weakness for many millennials, who generally struggle with all facets of emotional intelligence. It’s also a vital skill for leaders to have, as they’re the ones required to formulate innovative solutions to problems.
Employers can improve millennials’ critical thinking skills in a number of ways according to Jay Hart. For starters, they should be immersed in as many analytical tasks as possible, such as sifting through large piles of data to uncover trends or insights. Their cognitive biases should also be tested and exposed at every opportunity, teaching them that it’s inevitable they will exist and how to overcome them without their egos getting in the way.
Involve Them in Decision-Making Through Flat Management Structures
Another way to improve millennials’ critical thinking ability is to involve them in decision-making and brainstorming sessions that will serve a dual purpose. The majority of millennials plan to lead through a flat management structure that values the opinions of all employees and provides them with constant feedback and encouragement. Given that, Jay Hart cautions that keeping them stuck in rigid, traditional management structures is not helping them develop a better understanding of how to lead in the way they mean to themselves in the future.