I’ve been writing and speaking about millennials since they first made their way into the workplace as teenagers in 1998. Since then, I’ve interacted with thousands of mature business owners and leaders who’ve confessed their struggles and frustrations in managing this enigmatic generation.
Today, more than half of all millennials (born 1980-2000) are 25 and older, and the part-time teen workers of 1998 are now 35 years old. They hate being lumped into a generational heap that’s been branded and widely criticized for being inherently lazy and entitled. This is especially true for those overachieving millennials who are anything but lazy and entitled.
But what makes overachieving millennials even angrier is when they have to manage other millennials who personify the negative stereotypes their generation has been given.
Now one out of three of my readers and audience members is a millennial who owns a company or manages a business and after interacting with thousands of them, I’m convinced that they hate the entitlement-minded lazy slackers more than we baby boomers ever did. And our problem is now becoming their problem as baby-boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day and there are not enough Gen X’ers (born 1964-1979) to cover the leadership gap.
That means millennial achievers are now tasked with managing nonachieving millennials. A golfer might put it this way: Baby Boomer business leaders are on the back nine and heading to the clubhouse. Millennial leaders are just teeing off.
MILLENNIAL ACHIEVERS MUST LEARN HOW TO INSPIRE OTHER MILLENNIALS TO ACHIEVE
There is good news for millennial achievers (i.e. those young adults who are out in the world working hard, making their own way, living independently without help from the government or their parents, saving and making sound financial decisions, paying their taxes, voting in elections, and living principle-centered lives.) The future is brighter for you than it has ever been for any of us who’ve gone before you. That’s because you are in great demand, and in very short supply. Every organization wants you, needs you, and is out there scouring the earth in search of you. Take pride in that and keep up the good work.
The bad news is that being an achiever is not enough to get you where you ultimately want to go. If you want to make it to the next level (and achievers always want to reach the next level), you’ve got to be able to transform your nonachieving peers into achievers, and you must be able to lead them and develop them into leaders. As management guru Tom Peters says, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”
And as if that’s not enough of a daunting task, you’re now being charged with managing underachieving old fogies who are on the back nine and likely have their head in the clubhouse. And they don’t take kindly to being told what to do by young overachieving whippersnappers.
That’s a very tall order.
ON POINT – The call for young leaders has never been louder. It’s a daunting challenge, but the rewards are significant for those who survive and succeed.