Millennials Will Soon Rule The World: But How Will They Lead and Innovate?

In the last few years there has been a lot of research on Millennials and how they’re different. However what is their leadership style and how will they lead and innovate in the organisation of tomorrow?  Deloitte embarked on a series of global studies to understand the role of Millennials in business. In the first study, Deloitte India, in partnership with the Confederation of India Industry, looked at working and leading styles of Millennials in India.  A larger global study, which will be published later this year, looks at Millennials around the world. These are the findings of the Indian group with the global findings, that are similar, will be launched in Q4.

When asked “What is the Purpose of Business?” our future leaders say business must encourage innovation and positively impact society. More than half of Millennials surveyed (52 percent) believe business, more than any other area of society, will achieve the greatest impact in solving society’s biggest challenges. 

Roughly two-thirds of Millennials feel the outlook and attitudes of management are serious barriers to innovation, such as a reluctance to take risks; a reliance on existing products, services, and ways of doing business; and an unwillingness to collaborate with other businesses or universities. A similar percentage cite a variety of organizational barriers that impede new thinking, including poor channels of communication across the organization, lack of a formal process to encourage innovation, and a poor organizational structure.

Millennials want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills as leaders and wish to see them making a positive contribution to society, but many Millennials find business lacking in these areas. If you don’t make the culture change necessary to keep Millennials engaged, they will flee to start their own ventures or join the competition.

However Millennials will operate in a different way to leaders of today and this will impact the way innovation is undertaken in the organisation.  From the Deloitte study some of the factors that will change how the Millennials undertake innovation.  What does the organisation need to do to encourage Millennials to be innovative?

1. Millennials Want Leadership and They Want it Their Way

Millennials want leadership, and they want it their way. In fact they are less interested in running your company than running their own.  These young people grew up in an economy where their parents and older peers went through a massive recession and may have been laid off. They’ve seen rapid growth in new internet companies and the struggles larger organizations have faced. If we want to motivate young leaders, we have to give them opportunities to build, innovate, and create.

2. Millennials Know They Are Not Ready for Leadership, But They Want it Anyway

While these younger professionals have many opportunities in front of them, they don’t feel fully ready.  Organizations must give young people new, exciting leadership assignments as well as the training and coaching they need.  People in their 20s would like new jobs and new assignments every 12-24 months. The research shows they won’t necessarily wait three to five years for a promotion – so you have to create more talent mobility, special assignments, projects that are creative and innovative and job rotation programs.

3. Millennials Value an Open, Transparent, Inclusive Leadership Style

Millennials grew up in glass houses. They are comfortable with transparency.  They believe leadership should be the same. They look for openness, inclusion, and diversity e.g. through social media. This is why internal blogs and wikis and various corporate social networks are so widely used by younger people, and often not by boomers. If you want to attract and retain young people, innovation must be more shared, open and transparent.

4. Millennials Demand Career Growth – And Lots of It

Millennials don’t only want to lead; they expect to grow rapidly in their career.  They want to move rapidly, they want global assignments, they are willing to embark on short term assignments, and they want development.  Of course much of this is the “impatience of youth,” but the findings are actually more profound. The Millennials we interviewed told us that they don’t expect to work for a single employer for decades so they will go wherever they can find the growth and innovation they need.  Established organizations will need to create a more dynamic, “assignment-based” career model to develop young high-potentials.

5.  Millennials Thrive on Fairness and Performance-Based Appraisal, not Tenure

Millennials’ desire to be treated fairly.  They care very little Millennials about “defined succession and career plans.  Role clarity is less important for Millennials have grown up in the world of social networking, where everyone is unique and special. Innovation will need to have less “role boundaries” and a lot more “project based roles” to help Millennials grow.

6.  Millennials Thrive on Innovation and Change

Millennials enjoy working in organizations that are innovative, changing, and dynamic.

Millennials Thrive on Innovation and Change

 

Organizations have to become highly dynamic, and continue to be that way to be innovative to compete for talent.  Millennials want a place to learn every day, be innovative, experience new things, and see opportunities to work on lots of exciting projects during a career.

Barriers to innovation: Managers take heed

Leaders of Tomorrow Will Change Our Organizations and How we Innovate

Today’s Millennials will definitely rule the world. The job now is to make our organizations ready, so they can slip right into place and help us lead our businesses in their own special way.

Millennials want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills as leaders and wish to see them making a positive contribution to society, but many Millennials find business lacking in these areas. If you don’t make the culture change necessary to keep Millennials engaged, they will flee to start their own ventures or join the competition.

For Millennials, fostering innovative, ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions is more a matter of business processes than individual genius. Almost 60 percent of Millennials believe organizations can become good at innovation by following established processes and that innovation can be learned and is repeatable, rather than being spontaneous and random. To encourage the innovative ideas of its professionals, whether Millennials or their older colleagues, businesses will need to examine their culture and practices.

Sources: Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2014 | Creativity at Work Blog, Linda Naiman 

Day 2 of Hargraves Conference 2014 includes a focused Leadership stream. Share real innovation stories; meet the innovation teams from leading Australian companies; and collaborate with our diverse range of Hargraves members.
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