I’m watching the political navigation of becoming the next U.S. President with fascination. Even more fascinated since the UK voted to leave the European Union. Not about the characters (i.e. people) that are in front of us, rather I’m focused on the interesting navigation of the issues deemed important by the day. We are in a demographic shift, and I suspect you are feeling it too. In 2015 we shifted to a workforce that is predominantly Millennial. That means our voting base is also predominantly Millennial.
Millennials are the first generation to have technology in their lives since birth – digital natives. They are incredible with technology, and this knowledge coupled with the generation who knew divorced parents more than any previous, and you start to see where the confusion comes in for the rest of us. They learned that technology is an easy form of communication – asking for dates and breaking up through text messaging and social media. This leads to a different set of boundaries as the lines blur between personal and professional, and the interest in challenge and growth is matched with the expectation of feedback and promotion.
They are also interested in innovation and change, and clearly decided that the current EU structure wasn’t working for them. What does this mean for our Presidential race in the fall? As we see Trump, Clinton, and others vying for attention address the various concerns they see our country facing, we chime in with our own priorities and vote with what we believe will guide us forward. A generation that desires opportunity and growth is going to vote in this direction. I don’t have a prediction, I have curiosity.
And, how does this fit into leadership? Sit in any Executive Committee meeting and listen to the variety of priorities and agendas of the individual contributors and you have some sense of how diverse leaders are, and leadership skills too.
Millennials are a generation looking for more skills in relating to others: communication, conflict, accountability, to name a few. They seek guidance, without asking for it, and a rise in training for leadership skills is the result. Whether you are ready or not, this population is ready to lead, what do they need to know to do well?
I suggest focusing on self-awareness. Start with communication skills – both in day to day interactions plus conflict resolution. Include values, accountability, boundaries, and client service skills. Build a program that engages your next generation leaders over time, not one-and-done programs.