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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

What Are People Looking For In Their Leaders Today?

How can you become a better leader in a growing workforce?

In an ever-changing environment, are you taking the time to reflect on your authentic leadership style and stretching yourself to embrace new styles?

Being a great leader is about recognizing these opportunities for growth and leaning into what new generations need to succeed.

According to the 2017 Pew Research Center’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data, Millennials make up the majority of the U.S. workforce; and they have a list of characteristics and traits they expect from their leadership.

With that statistic still holding weight in today's working demographic, many leaders have yet to learn how to become a leader the new millennial generation wants to follow.

Today’s leaders need to learn to embrace the new generations coming into their industries and lean into empathy if they want to retain their workforce.

When leaders embrace empathy, they become a leader everyone wants to follow (especially the current age of millennials) and they become a leader their team trusts and respects.

So how do you embrace empathy and evolve into an authentic leader?

The first step is knowing what the new generations are looking for. Here are 3 characteristics millennials expect from their leaders.

1. Understanding

Millennials want their leaders to understand their desire for meaningful work. When those of us from older generations were starting out, we wanted to change the world and here’s the thing… so do they!

Do you remember the feelings you had the first time you felt called to pursue your dreams? The ease in knowing your purpose? How full of life and zest you were? That’s how Millennials are now.

They are looking to answer the same questions we once had, like:

  • “How can I contribute?”

  • “How can I establish my skills and make a name for myself?”

  • “Is there someone that can help me get where I want to go?”

Now it is our turn as leaders to support them. If we can all work together, we can create a workplace that is understanding, cohesive, and driven to make a positive impact on the world.

2. Guidance and mentorship

When we first came into our careers, we were most likely coming from straight out of college with little knowledge and experience in our chosen industry. But the thing that really accelerated our growth was more likely: mentorship.

Mentorship from more seasoned and experienced people in the industry is how we expanded our opportunities and became more successful in the company.

It’s the same for Millennials.

Mentorship is the bridge that takes us from where we started to where we are now. And now in our leadership roles, we are able to pay that forward to our people. Millennials are constantly looking for new opportunities and ways to get ahead. If we can help facilitate that path to growth, we are helping to shape the success for the next generation of leaders.

We can empower these individuals to step into their roles and take ownership of the growth that is available to them.

As Forbes notes, these values are important to the Millennial demographic because they are choosing their current organizations based on the learning opportunities they are offered within that organization.

It is about more than just committing to encourage our candidates in their current roles, it’s about going above and beyond to support them throughout their full careers. As mentors, we carry the promise to mention our mentees’ names in rooms of opportunity, to guide them in developing their skills, and to help them create a name for themselves.

3. Authenticity and trust

Authentic connection is the first stepping stone to authentic leadership.

And it all starts with trust.

People need the space and chance to be heard. They need an opportunity to articulate their feelings, share their ideas, and have their perspectives considered in order to make the organization better.

As leaders our role is to build the trust that creates that space. And to harness the power of the team and turn it into achieving great things.

If the younger generation feels like they aren’t trusted to speak up, then they won’t say anything meaningful or impactful. And as a business leader, you’ll be missing out on important insights, creativity, and innovation.

The influence millennials have as both employees and consumers is ever growing in many areas of business. And now is the time to reshape businesses to harness their power.

As leaders, our business growth lies in calling our Millennial coworkers to authentically show up as themselves and share their ideas. And if we show up authentically, they are more likely to do the same.

Empathy Is the Path Forward

In a world driven by constant change and a workforce dominated by Millennials, the role of a leader is more important than ever.

As we navigate these dynamic times, it's essential to recognize that effective leadership is not just about authority and strategy; it's about understanding, guidance, authenticity, and trust.

Embracing empathy and adapting to the needs of new generations are crucial to becoming a leader that today's Millennials want to follow. By acknowledging the yearning for meaningful work, providing mentorship and growth opportunities, and creating authentic connections built on trust, leaders can create environments that empower young professionals to thrive.

The power to shape the future lies in our hands, as we bridge the generation gap, embrace diversity, and cultivate workplaces that facilitate innovation, purpose, and collaboration.

If you want to hear more on this topic and topics like this, follow me on LinkedIn.


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