Truly, authenticity is the currency of millennials. We will follow, willingly, a leader who deals in authenticity and will run swiftly from one who exudes pretension and false emotion. This is simply the way millennials view life. We are the social media generation and because of that, we have been trained (in a sense) to see through the facade and can sense authenticity a mile away!
When it comes to leading millennials, there is a right way and a wrong way and that is just the simple fact. Here is a fascinating article on the subject and one that I will draw my following points from: Article on Millennials/Authenticity
The first point made to leaders is this: Authentic leaders need to be self-aware and genuine (credit: Karl Moore). As a millennial, I can back up these claims and whole-heartedly agree! We are not interested in perfection but rather honesty and a willingness to admit and work on mistakes and shortcomings. Especially when it comes to public speaking/engaging in any matter, we would rather you bring your truest self to the table because it is easier to watch than someone who is pretending to be what they simply are not. Brené Brown has an incredible book devoted to this entire subject and you can order it here if you would like to learn more: Order Here. I’d say more but you should really just read her book…seriously!
Another point made by Karl Moore was this: Authentic leaders lead with their hearts, not their minds. This is so incredibly on point. It’s easy to get caught up in old habits and mindsets even when they are not serving the interest of the community. One can get apathetic and distant in leadership, not seeing how things are failing and simply carrying on old ways for the sake of it. I admire anyone who can consider the interest of the group or community and is willing to challenge old mindsets for the benefit of the community. Millennials are seeking out places where there is true heart led leadership. When you lead with your heart, you are willing to do the hard work to develop a healthy culture as well as systems that will engage and support the community. Empathy plays a big factor here.
Providing opportunity for growth, challenging the status quo, inviting criticism and opposing opinions, allowing others to try (and fail!), and focusing on what kind of culture is being created are all side effects of leading from the heart or “discipling.” I think discipling is a better word because it entails working within the community in a very hands on capacity and that is what millennials long for! We are completely ready to be discipled/mentored and to learn to succeed with our skills and giftings. We want to bring something to the table and be a part of a culture that we are proud of!
The last point, by Karl Moore, that I want to bring up is this: Authentic leaders focus on the long term. We are the future and we are looking for leaders who actually care more about the future than they do about hanging on the past. The truth is, we, millennials, are the ones stepping into the future and are incredibly invested in what that is going to look like!
Regardless of where or how you lead, these points will apply! Whether in a business setting, in a nonprofit, or in a church or volunteer capacity, if you are leading millennials, these truths are important to note!
Authenticity is the currency of millennials so as a leader, you will either be growing in wealth or becoming broke! How millennials see you engage, interact, and lead the community/group will either cause them to want to stay or to run and flee! If you work with millennials or want to see more millennials involved in what you do, these steps are a great place to start developing.
Do you have any thoughts? Don’t be afraid to leave a comment!