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Millennials in Business and Leadership

May 06, 2018

100 Million Millennials – Are They Ready to Lead Business?

Close to 100 million 18 to 38 year olds comprise what is now the dominant economic force in North America.

How this generation is trained and given the reigns of power in business and industry across millions of companies and government departments will affect our quality of life in the next 3 decades.

How this group thinks and gets things done is vital to you regardless of the business you’re in.

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Asia has even bigger numbers in this age group and they’ll be interesting to watch, while Europe has fewer — mostly disenfranchised, unemployed millennials and experts feel Europe’s future is in doubt because of it.

This huge group, who have adapted to fast technology changes and opportunities are vital to future business performance, yet many companies have no plan to build and capture their potential.

The Millennials or Generation Y as they’re called are the Internet/digital generation. They’ve integrated the power of information and technology into their lives and because of it, have a fairly good command of them. They want the technology to do the hard work, while they carve out a strategy to fulfillment.

That’s in contrast to Gen Xers and Babyboomers who are more independent, resistant to change, and respectful of slugging it out old school style to win business.

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Judging by the number of burned out people slugging it out 9 to 5 against automated, tech enabled, AI driven software and systems, perhaps these Millennials have a better way?

Millennials know great opportunity is present in technology, however they’re thwarted by the need for experience and the demands of strategy, hard work, and the time it takes to be successful. Success isn’t easy or smooth and it takes time. Are they able and willing to grind it out for the win, or do they need someone’s help?

This is the first in an epic 4 part series on Millennials. Please do share it on Linkedin. 

Understood or Misunderstood?

Much is written about their frustrations (they want mobility, flex schedules, and travel), unrealistic nature (as kids, they received participation awards even when they didn’t win or performed adequately) and poor self-awareness (as reported by others).

Some feel Millennials are no different from any previous new generation coming into the workforce. If they aren’t different, the world they’re working and living in certainly is.

Despite all the friction and complaints about them, Millennials are working out the gap between reality and their expectations. They’re getting older, learning what’s effective, and the money is starting to roll in.

What is the Millennial Mindset?

This series of 4 posts explores how the Millennial generation is unique, what it is about them that is an asset and what we can learn from them.

What I’ve learned about Millennials in working with them, is their progressiveness, and an openness to and ease with technology. Despite the knocks against them, I found them to be advanced as people.

They can do great things, however they have personal hurdles they need help getting over.  It could be in their collaborative, sharing world, they lack the individualism, independence, and drive needed to be effective leaders. Leadership means being unpopular and making tough decisions by yourself. There are winners and losers in business and it’s survival of the fittest.

There is a big question of how to move them into leadership positions so we can take advantage of their unique outlook and skills with respect to the latest fast changing technology.

Many of them don’t know their strengths and value in specific terms. In these videos, you’ll hear them described as adaptable team players who can learn well. However, leaders are those separate from the herd. Will they possess the intellectual and emotional weapons needed to compete and win today? Do they respect old fashioned values of hard work, painful dedication, tough negotiation and focus? if not, who will teach them?

You probably know the generalities about Millennials, but what if we started drilling down to get at the essence of how they think and how it can help us all succeed?

In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the future success of your enterprise lies in viewing the world as a 20- or 30-year-old would — because it might be the best way to adapt ourselves.

Is the supposed differences between Millennials and the rest of us much ado about nothing? There’s lots of distortion and hype and some Millennials don’t like it:

A Millennial aged woman at a conference said, “I feel like I’m hitting a glass ceiling because everyone just assumes I’m not committed to being here for more than 3 years. And they presume I’m more interested in rock climbing than advancing my career. But a lot of what they’re being taught about ‘my’ generation just isn’t me!” –from

If there’s one overiding element that makes them different, it’s that they’re okay about technology, change, and progress. They’re more trusting, open-minded and naive about technology, but would you want them heading up your cybersecurity team?  And they want success, money, recognition, SUV’s and big houses, growth, possessions, security and love just as much as anyone of any age.

The Path to Fulfilment

Perhaps they see a quicker path to fulfillment and getting things done?

Is it in how to achieve goals? Millennials see a more flexible path and are willing to let go of old ways that don’t really work anymore. Bless them for that. And we shouldn’t expect them to be able to explain all of this better than we can. In the era of fake news and advertising distortion, they may see deception and lies better than we do.

And what about getting to success? They believe technology will speed that all up for freedom and empowerment for all. For instance, they see the value of leveraged power in real estate, and in crowd funded startups, and in being a digital nomad.

According to RealtyShares, 55% of millennials are enthusiastic about investing in real estate, though 83% wish the process were easier, an encouraging statistic for turnkey firms geared toward simplifying the real estate investment (and property management) process. Also encouraging, 54% of millennials are interested in investing in real estate outside of their primary residence, significantly higher than the 55+ demographic —  Forbes article

Are They Actually Different, or is all of This Talk Bogus?

The difference between Gen Y, Gen X, and Babyboomers is obscure. A good portion of GenXers and Babyboomers could actually have the same personalities, thinking styles, and values as Millennials. Think back 50 years to the hippie era. Millennials are the new hippies trying to get the establishment to think different. And the Hippies discovered peace and love weren’t going to cut it in the real world.

Reality changes us all. Gen Y’s will also succumb to practical reality and let go of naive assumptions.

As we explore this topic, let’s focus on the best of their creative, problem solving and decision making skills and learn from them. Their minds are perfectly adapted to relentless technological change and their perspective is relevant. They can help us navigate the new world of artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet business, online learning, sharing economy, collective wisdom, and the need for efficiency.

Is Millennial Culture A Competitive Weapon?

Millennials must compete, so how are they doing that? To create a more competitive position against Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, many Gen Y’s have banded together as a sharing, self-referencing unit to (1) gain advantage in the workplace and (2) to recreate the world they would like to live in.

Older generations are miffed at the younger generation’s attachment to tech and smartphones, wondering what it is they think Twitter, Instagram, and texting will get them. They’re trying to stack the deck in their favor. Technology is the easiest way to do it and poltics can be too.

Do they really believe in fairness, open trade, and earth friendliness, or is this just a ploy to tilt the playing field against older generations? Was the election of Donald Trump our response to a generation that simply doesn’t understand competitive survival? Are they too naive to be entrusted with leadership?

Succession is on the Minds of Many Business Owners

If the reins of power aren’t handed to those Gen Y’s worthy of handling them, US businesses could soon be in trouble. Babyboomers can’t remain in their current role forever and their stodginess might leave our industry in the dust. Many will simply be too old to lead anymore.

And old school workstyles, tied to the desk, time clock culture agrees with the demands of the new digital business world. Gen Y’s will win out. This is why they admire companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon, which offer work flexibility, training, and the use of new technology and which enables their loftier vision of fulfillment.

When they land a position at Google,  it’s because Google represents a way of thinking and a confidence in new technological solutions where young people take precedence and more can get done (and where there are fewer GenXers and Babyboomers).

But will the oldest of this generation be willing to share with the younger Millennials?

Millennials Are Already Managing

Older generations don’t have confidence in them.

“a significant portion of the older employees whom Millennials are managing don’t have faith in their abilities. The only way to overcome this unique challenge is through a range of professional learning & development delivery options, including formal training, mentoring, coaching, and online self-directed learning. This will help create a culture of learning that benefits all generations” — from a Workplacetrends report which also says that such training/mentoring programs don’t exist. It seems leaders are coming from somewhere else.

Let’s Find Out More About Millennials for the Sake of Our Businesses

This is the first of a series of posts about the Millennial Generation. We look at what drives them, how they think, and why they’re essential to you as you develop your value propositions to customers and keep your businesses sustainable with new technology.

Millennials can actually lead and help us improve our businesses in every way, not just because they are becoming the market, but rather in how this helps us improve how we understand the market and serve modern customers.

Older Generations May Not Like The New Business Culture

While Gen Xers are now masters of business management, it remains to be seen whether they can manage in the coming years as automation, internet technology, AI, Blockchain and other trends rewrite how business is done.

Many Gen Xers may find nothing romantic about the new AI driven automation. They may even lose their jobs because of new technology.

We see many real estate agents and property managers for instance, who are reluctant to upgrade and adopt new technology, even though they know it could mean their careers will stall and their performance falter.

Millennials Will Soon Outspend Everyone Else

Although the reported numbers are all over the place, we can concede that as the years pass, Millennials will take half of the jobs and will be the focus of consumer business.

In terms of economic force, in the coming years, it is Millennials who will be having children, buying houses, furniture, and cars, buying groceries online, and leading the push to business efficiency and profits.

They Want Instant Results! But So Does Business

There’s a good match between Millennials and the economy. Yet there are questions. Can this group learn from the older groups and apply themselves effectively? Can they think long term and big picture? Can they get rid of distractions and focus on bottom line profit results?

Reshaping the consumer markets: “I want it fast and I want it now.” U.S. Millennials are all about instant gratification. They put a premium on speed, ease, efficiency, and convenience in all their tranactions. .. They value getting through the line quickly in so-called fast-casual restaurants (upscale fast-food chains without table services, such as Chipotle)… –Boston Consulting Group report on Milllennials.

The above insight reveals a group that appreciates efficiency in design and performance, speed of service, and convenience which are key parts of the value proposition of all services and products today. They’re zeroed in on what’s important to today’s customers increasing buying online, turning to automation and internet businesses.

It may be time to let this generation lead the way while we stand back and learn from them. What they value and what they can do is in tune with the new tech-based economy.

Whether it’s smartphone app design, solar technology, rental apartment construction and design, robotics, restaurant menus, or commercial real estate development, their preferences help us understand what’s needed.

As consumers, they spend almost $200 Billion yearly already. We should be asking why they want what they do, and how we can make their dreams happen. It’s good business.

Bookmark this page and stay tune for Part II of building Millennial Leadership.


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