Top 10 Character Traits Of A Millennial Leader

by Jonathan Hime on 22 June 2015

The dominance of the old-school CEO is on the wane. Boardrooms will look very different in five years’ time as the Generation Y ‘Millennials’ rise through the ranks and challenge the management culture in many organisations. Much has been written about these upstarts and how their outlook differs from that of their predecessors. But are we talking chalk and cheese?

Millennials still have clear commercial goals and know the importance of delivering profitability and shareholder returns. The fundamental difference is in style and attitude and it really is a seismic shift. Here are the top 10 character traits: 

Millennials

Predecessors

1. Non hierarchical

1. Hierarchical

2. Diverse backgrounds

2. Gold plated education

3. Transformational mind set

3. Risk averse mind set

4. High EQ

4. High IQ

5. Puts the company first

5. Self-promoting ‘rock star’

6. Democratic

6. Autocratic

7. Digitally savvy

7. Technotard

8. Innovative

8. Traditional

9. Customer focus

9. Shareholder focus

10. Values KPIs

10. Financial KPIs

To coin a phrase that probably emanated from the Arbinger Institute, the Millennials are all about ‘mindful leadership’ with a focus on values, conduct and people. They thrive on building and motivating teams. They want to develop themselves and their colleagues. They respect and value diversity. They are confident and optimistic. They are constructive agitators, with a remarkable ability to achieve goals in a shifting environment. And they are all digital natives – comfortable with technology, capable of handling vast amounts of information and genuinely customer centric.

Their emergence will challenge organisations’ talent management practices, too. Such individuals are difficult to recruit and retain. They come from a much wider range of educational, social and work backgrounds than their predecessors. They may not have gone to the ‘right’ schools and universities or followed the ‘normal’ career paths. 

Organisations need to adapt to the emergence of these new Millennial leaders, otherwise they will struggle to pass on the baton. Some boards already look and feel completely renewed. Others have recognised the need for change and are taking action. Many more have stood still or have started to wilt. They should wake up; the ego-obsessed, hierarchical boards of old are simply not suited to the evolving, post-recession culture of businesses today - a new, very different, generation is on the rise.