I had a really good conversation with a good friend of mine this morning about one of my recent blog posts. He offered some really rich perspective and insight on “Managing Millennial Expectations”. One of the outcomes of that conversation for me was a reminder of the importance and the power of effective leadership.
The conversation led us to a shared perspective of the amount of concern for others that it requires to be an effective manager of expectations. As an example, healthier and less disappointing experiences take place when we do not project our own self-serving expectations onto others based on what we want them to do. The expectations we ought to have of others should be based on what they should be doing to make themselves better. This is essentially one of the primary attributes of leadership. When your expectations of someone is based on what you know and/or believe will make them a better, that is more about helping them help themselves and their overall contribution to the greater team. That’s a sign of true leadership.
When we look at expectations through a leadership lens, we see it a little differently. This is particularly true with the different generational mindsets. Expectations from a leadership perspective from a Gen X or Boomer perspective is typically seen as “I expect you to do whatever I say and do whatever it takes to make my life easier because I’m the boss and I’ve earned it”.
This way of thinking is based on leadership strictly being a position or title. If you were to ask a group of Gen X’ers and/or Boomers if they were leaders, the answer would more than likely be yes, but that answer would probably be based upon the title or position that they hold. If you were to ask that same question to a group of millennials, the answer would more than likely be yes, but because of their mindset and definition of leadership.
Millennials don’t believe you need a title to be a leader. They believe that leadership is about influencing, impacting and inspiring change. Change for the better of course.
Millennials will not (and should not) wait to receive a title to impact change where they see change is needed. Millennials also want to know and like the people they work and associate with. This is interesting as it relates to effective leadership, because we have always heard that “you don’t have to like someone to work with them”. Although this is true, it sure does help if you like the people you work with. This also matters because as a leader your role is to be a teacher and mentor that is more transformational than transactional. If you simply aspire to be someone’s boss, then maybe transactional will do. Leaders however, understand their responsibility and have an expectation of themselves to transform lives for the better. This ultimately benefits the group, team or organization as well.
For any of my millennial crew that understands that you don’t need a title to be a leader, I salute you. For those that are waiting for a title as permission to activate the leader inside of you, stop waiting and start today. You don’t have to be the VP or CEO to be a leader. There are people’s lives that you have already influenced for the better that you aren’t even aware of. Now just start leading on purpose.