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How to Influence, Train and Enable Millennials for Leadership

by Margaret Bell | March 23, 2017

Step forward, Millennials; now it is your time. Thirty years of development, growth, understanding and tutelage have taken us to this point. Now, it is time for the Millennial generation to take over at the driving seat.

This is all well and good to a point, but the landscape of business – and of society in general – is significantly different to how it was in the mid-1980s, when the Millennial generation first emerged into the world. Some commentators have blamed Millennials for this shift, describing them as ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’. ‘narcissistic’, and ill-equipped for taking on leadership roles.

But can such a sweeping generalisation really be true? Simon Sinek, a British/American author and motivational speaker, doesn’t think so. When discussing ‘The Millennial Question’ in December 2016, he talked about the parenting errors which produced the Millennial generation, explaining how this generation had been brought up with an individual-centric education. In homes and schools across Australia, children were told that they were special and that they could have everything they wanted simply by wanting it.

Upon graduation, Millennials suddenly found themselves in the real world; a world incompatible with the relative safety of childhood. This incompatibility led to a conflict, and, subsequently, to the perception of Millennials that many harbour today. It is not enough to say that Millennials are weak or are unable to take on the responsibilities that their parents shouldered. Instead, we would be wiser to look at the foundation upon which this theory is built, and work to change it.

The Changes We Need

So, how can such changes be implemented? At their core, the most profound changes are always based upon one thing; education. Education does not end when we graduate high-school, nor does it end when we finish some tertiary studies. Education ends when we end; with our last breath. As long as we are alive, we continue to learn and develop.

Training and education programs are what are required to implement change. To give Millennials the tools they need to make the step up into leadership, and to enable them to support the next generation after them.

Training for Millennials needs to be socially cohesive and really meaningful. A recent article from Lauren Brousell at CIO described them as not motivated simply by monetary gain, but by purpose and ethos. Brousell cites figures from a joint Virtuali and Workplacetrends survey, which found that 47% of Millennials seek leadership positions in order to empower others, compared to only 5% who described better salaries as their key motivation.

The positive, selfless hunger is there; we just need to make sure that this hunger is supported through practical education and development. To see one’s self in a position to enable the other can be life changing offering a deeper level of satisfaction than can otherwise be experienced.  This is the education for change we need to see.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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