Over the past several years we've been inundated with articles decrying the millennial generation as self-absorbed and impossible to lead. So when I had the opportunity to sit down with leadership and mentoring expert Dr. Alan E. Nelson, I wanted to dig into his experience with millennials.
In addition to teaching in the MBA program at USC's Marshall School of Business and the Naval Postgraduate School, Dr. Nelson is a social innovator, professor, and author. He is also the founder of LeadYoung Training Systems, a premier organizational leadership training curricula for 3- to 23-year-olds.
With that in mind, I asked Dr. Nelson, when it comes to leading and empowering millennials, where he would focus his attention.
There are two things. I would look for those who can lead others and those who are social influencers more than just treating them all the same. Then I would develop them and mentor them because I find that they are open to that. They want to develop themselves.
The other thing is ironic. I think that millennials, because they are so interested in the work-life balance, sometimes they're perceived to be noncommittal. But if we're going, to be honest, most organizations are not that committed to their employees anymore. It goes both ways. So we want them to be committed to us, but we're not that committed to them.
We have to understand their mindset and understand how to not over-elevate the work-life balance value in our organizations. It's teaching them the discipline of, "if you want this job and if you want a paycheck, this is what it's going to require." But on the flip side, we need to determine how we can create more flexible schedules if we're going to attract the talented millennial. We've got to do things differently. It's both give and take. We have to change, but we also need to nurture and mentor them along the path.
I encourage you to pick up Dr. Nelson's book The Secret of People. The book focuses on what makes people tick, understanding what people value, and deciding how to honor and give them dignity.
TO LISTEN TO KENT'S FULL INTERVIEW WITH DR. ALAN E. NELSON, LISTEN BELOW OR GO TO APPLE PODCASTS.