We are living in turbulent times. The trajectory of leadership is constantly changing. We are facing a myriad of social, economic and political challenges. However, leadership is vital to the success of this era. No matter what stage of your career you are in, it is important to develop your leadership skills. So many millennials feel like they have insignificant roles in organizations. You may not be a key decision maker in your organization. However, you have influence and it is important that you are empowered to harness that influence so you can help lead change in your organization. I believe there are a few essential principles for increasing your value in this era.
- You need to understand that you have influence. I know what it is like to feel like you are not an important part of an organization. As millennials, we often enter the job market with the least amount of power and decision-making ability. In addition, we are already battling with a generation that has labeled us as lazy, uncommitted and entitled. While the challenges are great, it is vital that you understand that you have influence. Forbes reports that millennials will comprise more than one of three adult Americans by 2020. In addition, this same report concludes that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. So we can conclude that millennials are a major part of the workforce. Instead of seeing your youth and inexperience as a bad thing, I encourage you to see it as a leveraging tool. Millennials bring unique perspectives and experiences to the marketplace. You would be surprised how many senior leaders are open to learning how to manage and build bridges with the millennial generation. Devote yourself to your work, build relationships and look for unique opportunities to influence and make a difference in your organization.
- You must develop your skills. Millennials have a lot to offer the world. However, sometimes we have a tendency to think that we know everything. It has been stated that we are the most educated generation in history. While I am very proud of this statement, I also understand that education and experience are not the same things. Too often millennials go into the job market with unrealistic expectations and a sense of entitlement. The reality is that success starts from the ground up. Change your mindset about your industry and make a decision to be a student. One of the things that I have done is entered organizations with a learning mentality. I know that we have education and some experience. However, it is important that we remain teachable and that we take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Education alone will not make you valuable to an organization. Education and a commitment to develop your skills will make you invaluable. You should learn everything that you can so that you can be a greater asset to your organization. In essence, you must remain committed to growth and development. It is the key to the advancement of your career and assurance of your long-term success.
- You must develop a forward mindset. I am sure that you may be wondering what I mean by forward mindset. A forward mindset is the ability to see beyond today and see into the future. It is a hallmark of great leadership and an essential skill to develop in the twenty-first century. Millennials have already had a dramatic impact on business. Millennials are driven by causes and very mission oriented. This same research from Forbes finds that organizations have already made major shifts to woo this millennial generation. Organizations are rebranding and placing a greater emphasis on collaboration, philanthropy, and social impact. This is an important insight for millennials because it has the ability to shape how business is done for generations to come. Millennials should be looking for ways to make their organizations more profitable and socially conscious. Millennials have a unique opportunity to influence policies, expand missions and influence the impact that organizations have in the world. However, the only way this will happen is seeing beyond a job. Realize that you have the ability to provide unique perspectives that can propel organizations forward. Always look for opportunities to communicate your perspective and insert your voice.
- You must seek out mentorship. Lots of things have been written about the millennial generation. In fact, many say that baby boomers and millennials cannot seem to get along. I totally disagree with this statement. I’ve worked with baby boomers and I have a great deal of respect for the previous generation. The key to bridging these generational gaps is establishing a culture of respect and honor in organizations. It is possible to honor the past and also embrace the present. One thing that has contributed to my success is seeking out the mentorship of senior leaders in organizations. I’ve moved out of my comfort zone to build relationships with senior leaders and key decision makers in organizations. As a result, mutual respect has been established and many have willingly served as mentors in my life. These mentorship relationships have been invaluable to me in my personal and professional life. Mentorship is important because it challenges you to grow, forces you to stretch beyond your comfort zone and expands your capacity for success. You cannot be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want. You can be a bridge builder in your organization. When you become a bridge builder you will always be on the cutting-edge in your industry.
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