December 2, 2021

Are You Ready for the Millennials?

Over the last 35 years, I have been talking and talking to leaders…thousands of leaders from all walks of life and every corner of the globe. And, for those of you who have been following what I have been doing with the Millennial Leaders project, you know that for the last 18 months, I have been talking specifically to some incredibly amazing young leaders…25 of them to be exact, all under the age of 30 and a large host of Gen Y experts.

I have also been out over the last 18 months, talking to Baby Boomers and Gen X leaders about the incredible successes that Gen Y is bringing to our world…really remarkable accomplishments. As I am talking to these more senior leaders, I am met with either a ”deer in the headlights” gaze, or I hear responses like:

“Why are you messing with all of this Gen Y crap? I thought you were a leadership coach?” (Okay…that is really a ridiculous comment…leadership is all about leading each and every generation. And studies show that 1 out of every 3 Baby Boomers are working for a younger boss).

“Why the &*%$# would I want to learn about how to lead Gen Y?” (Duh? There are 80 million of them? )

“I don’t want anything to do with these kids. They are entitled, narcissistic and disrespectful.” (Spoken by an entitled, narcissistic, disrespectful Baby Boomer who probably burned her bra in front of her parents’ home in 1965).

“Oh…we don’t want to talk about that. We have other issues to deal with.” (Like…uh…how do we sign up for a shopping cart. Or HUH? We need to have a meeting about how we can be more efficient with our 1000 e-mails coming in each day?…All going on while your competition is snatching up Gen Y talent while you are fighting about who didn’t respond to an e-mail…and Gen Y hates e-mail).

“Gen Y…who’s that…?…Oh…the younger group…oh…that’s not a problem for us yet” (Who said this was a problem…and are you going to be proactive or reactive?)

“Uh…I don’t want to try to figure out how to market to Gen Y. My target market is Baby Boomers”. (I can’t even comment on this…it just reminds me too much of the hundreds of companies who said they refused to computerize their businesses 20 years ago…companies who are no longer in business).

So…my response to all of this is this:

If you aren’t waking up and getting what is going on with Gen Y, you will be left behind quickly, and you won’t even know it hit you. By the year 2010, there will be 80 million Generation Y young leaders in the workforce. You cannot continue running your business like you did 7 years ago or trying to lead this younger generation like all of the old school leadership gurus taught you. (Are you training people how to lead virtually? Are you training your leaders how to lead as your company “goes green”? Are you training your leaders to lead during crisis or the war on terror?) Different times call for different approaches to leadership. And…you won’t get there by calling Gen Y names like lazy, entitled or narcissistic or burying your head in the sand, pretending you don’t see them entering the workforce in droves.

Gen Y wants leadership (as a matter of fact, they are begging for leaders to step up and help them out).  They are not into leaders who are not transparent…they want authenticity, and they want Boomers and Gen X to come to them and say “We need you here, and we want to help you lead”.  They want their voice to be heard (don’t we all?).  And they are sick and tired of older leaders using the same old same old approaches (like trying to attract Gen Y into your company using the old “pay your dues” mentality or “come in, and you can work your way up the corporate ladder”.)

So, if you are reading this blog entry today, I am challenging you to get up out of your chair and do something.  Go through this blog and start educating yourself about what’s happening.  Or, pick up the phone and call me a (910) 692-6118, and ask me any question about what to do next (I don’t know all of the answers, but I have one hell of a network who can answer anything on the subject).  Start taking the steps today to start working with Generation Y.  The shift in the workforce is happening NOW, and you don’t want to be sitting here in three years saying “I wish I had done something three years ago when I read this crazy blog entry by Bea Fields”..

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