Millennials Want Mentors, Not Managers

Millennials want leaders who inspire, challenge and value them.

Sonali Verghese
Feb 2, 2020 · 7 min read
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Photo by Victor Xok on Unsplash

Millennials, like Andre, view their work as a central part of their lives, not as a distinct activity to be “balanced” . They thrive on purpose-driven challenge and fulfilment.

They want to meet new people, learn new skills and find a deeper meaning in their work. They want mentors who inspire and challenge them, who guide and coach them, who instill in them a greater sense of purpose.

Millennials are often viewed with antipathy

For years, there has been a visible generational bias — bordering on antipathy — against millennials. It’s impossible to get through any form of media content without encountering some misguided, and often exaggerated diatribe against them — that they’re a lazy, attention-seeking, entitled and narcissistic generation, that they require constant coaching, incessant feedback, and round-the-clock reassurance.

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Source: Harvard Business Review

Mentoring millennials

Andre’s story got me thinking — at the ripe old age of 25, I can count on one hand the number of peers I know who are still working for the same employer they joined upon graduating college. Contrast that with my parents’ and grandparents’ generations — they spent decades working for the same employer.

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


The emerging trend in leadership is a manager who guides, not commands. Create a supportive work environment where employees can have direct connections with management, regardless of title or seniority — this goes a long way in building trust and understanding.

Hierarchy and bureaucracy are out. Open communication and collaboration are in.

The new generation seeks out inclusive workplaces that eschew the rigid constraints of bureaucracy and embrace collaboration.


Millennials are driven by the pursuit of passion and development in their work — they want to develop and hone their skills. They want to feel supported in order to be more efficient and proficient. To them, personal development is a top priority.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash


Millennials look up to their seniors — they hope to learn from them, to emulate them, to be successful like them. Managers who listen to their employees and connect with them one-on-one will be respected.

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