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Five Key Areas of Difference When Evaluating Millennials for the C-Suite

    According to employment forecasts, Millennials will represent 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025. The oldest Millennials are now 37 and are increasingly getting more management responsibilities. The youngest, now 21 or 22 are graduating from college this month, with their four year degree. Thus the impact of the Millennial generation will continue to grow throughout our workforce.

    As Millennials continue to take on management roles, it is important to be aware of this group’s way of looking at business and how they approach work and the workplace. In a recent American Express report titled “Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way”, they identified Five Key areas of difference that are set to characterize the Millennial C-Suite. In summary they are as follows:

    1. Earning Authority: When Millennials manage, cultural or collegial leadership is more effective than authority or position-based leadership. Millennial leaders are focused on earning “the right to lead” and do so with emotional intelligence and emotional awareness.
    2. Open to Everything: Millennial managers will be more open to other kinds of support and to new ideas from all people; both inside and outside of business and within all levels of business. Whether done informally or formally, Millennial leaders will welcome hearing from varied voices.
    3. Managing for Overload: With such factors as technology and outsourcing, organizations are flatter, resulting in managers taking on more headcount, projects and sometimes functional roles. Frequently, to get things done within today’s organization, it is best to ask for forgiveness, rather than to ask for permission.
    4. Focusing on the Human Value: Millennials see human value in a multitude of characteristics and attributes. Gender, ethnicity and age are of less concern to them. They want to be around co-workers who have the aptitude and willingness to learn; shifting the focus towards softer skills, that encourage a more diverse workforce.
    5. Working Time: Technology and networked teams makes it now possible to be involved with work around the clock, 24/7. Though Millennial managers have grown up with an “Always On” social life, as leaders they want to establish clearer distinctions between work and the rest of their life.

    To understand how senior leaders within our digital and technology eco-system see this trend, we checked in with a few C-Level executives to get their take on the matter.

    Matt Gilbert, the CEO of Pepperjam looks at this way: “Millennials have different expectations and values. They need to have a sense of purpose and without purpose they move on. They have expectations of transparency and there is an important value in that transparency. That said, Millennials need to understand when entering the C-Suite, to be aware of the people who are already in place.”

    Eric Koefoot, the President & CEO of PublicRelay offers the following: “The vast majority of Millennials have not experienced an economic downturn in a leadership position. They rarely have been in an authority position that would create a challenge. The best rounded leaders have seen both the up and down sides of an economy and until you have, it is hard to manage that situation. For Millennials, it would be wise to not dismiss their older mentors and advisors and be open and humble.”

    Paul Greenberg, the CEO of Butter Works says the following: “Companies should be aware that Millennials in general want a lot of responsibility and do not want to be micro-managed. For most people to succeed, you need to delegate appropriately. Give them the ability to test their wings. They want to be taken seriously and respected and the best way to show someone respect, is to trust them.”

    Matt McGowan, the President of Adestra looks at Millennials in the following light: “They are a varied and complex group. As employers we should embrace their ability to innovate as they are more technologically savvy. We should also embrace their lack of tenure and think of it as asset. And Millennials need to appreciate the perspective of their superiors.”

    Kerry Bianchi, President & CEO at Visto, offers the following thoughts: “When Millennials get promoted into C-Level positions, similar advice holds true of anyone going into a C-Level position regardless of what era they were born into. And that is: Seek multi-layered communications across your organization, whether that is across levels and departments, or multiple forms: face to face, web-ex, phone, text, email, formal or informal.”

    Millennials will have an increasingly expanded impact upon our work force. Baby-Boomers and Gen-Xers, need to embrace and understand the trigger points of the Millennial demographic. Millennials, should continue offering their technology insights and other assets, yet be open to learning from those with more experience.

    Since we need to be respectful and understanding of each group’s values and points of view, expand your learnings through conversation. If you are a Millennial, take a Baby-Boomer or Gen-Xer out and ask them about their career and how they got started. If you are a Baby-Boomer or a Gen-Xer, invite a Millennial out and ask them questions about their challenges in the work force and what is important to them in their career, as they move forward. Try to see it from each other’s points of view and be transparent and open.

    We are going to be coexisting with each other for a while, so let’s make it work for all of us!

    What are your thoughts? Would welcome hearing from you.

    By Donald Leon, Managing Director, Don Leon Search

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