I had the privilege of getting up close and personal with the next generation of Australian leaders. I listened to their hopes, dreams and aspirations. What I found was astounding. Far removed from the self-centred people this group had been tarnished as.
Millennials are classed as the generation after Gen X. They encompass what was known as generation Y. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Researchers use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.
Millennials have grown up watching their parents working for the same employer for most if not all their career. Their parents often have aspirations for them to go to university. They have grown up with computers and technology and typically have not had a need for much as they grew up.
Many of them are currently in tertiary education or have joined the workforce. The older of them approaching their early to mid-30’s. Millennials are realising that their life is not the same as their parents in several different ways:
Firstly, unlike their parents, they will have not just multiple job, they will have multiple careers (sometimes simultaneously). Secondly, they are likely to work for themselves. Thirdly, they will not be able to afford their parents’ house if they had to buy it. Fourthly, they will have to think and act very differently to survive and thrive with the pace of change they will experience.
How does this knowledge impact them?
Most Millennials do not know what they want to be when they “grow” up: Many feel a great deal of pressure to know their place in the world by now. An overwhelming sense of unease set in for those that did not know.
Sam felt concerned that he didn’t know what job he was interested in or what kind of entrepreneur he should be. He has a wide array of interests (some which appear to be in conflict with others) and was worried that something was wrong with him. The more I spoke with him I discovered a deep level of awareness and anxiousness into the state of Australia’s agricultural and food security. He had a clear vision of what he wanted to happen. He also felt that current leaders were too short-sighted, to do what was right.
Like Sam, many others knew which problem they wanted to solve and had a clear vision. For them it was “how do I build a team”, “acquire the right tools”, “create a great business model” that will support me in achieving this;
Olivia wanted to reduce the threat of skin cancer in Australia. She had no intention of becoming a doctor. Her plan was more about prevention utilising wearable technology. “If I could educate people to become aware of the levels of sun exposure they had, perhaps they would do more to protect their skin.” Despite her clarity, she did not know where to begin. From what she could see the education system nor private sector entities appeared to provide an avenue to help bring her vision into reality.
Millennials on education: Over half of those I spoke with were undergoing double university degrees. Many of them were questioning the value. Information is freely available via the internet, yet a degree introduced them to a hefty debt early in life. That is not to say that Millennials question learning, far from it. They however felt that traditional courses were limited. A number of non-science related courses criticised for not having room for independent thought and lacked teaching multiple perspectives.
Many others commented that their future occupations were yet to be created. Their thoughts would turn to, “what is the best thing I can do right now to set myself up for an uncertain future?” “How can I make my future more certain?” Leading to a search for non-mainstream avenues in which they can harness their desired outcomes.
Millennials are asking the big questions as they search for meaning: Marco expressed how he searched online to understand the root causes of why the world was the way it was. “Why do some nations thrive and others fail?” “Why do some innovators make it, when others do not?”
They are looking to understand the big picture and form deeply held beliefs that will guide them. This group look for inspiration in the likes of Elon Musk (Tesla), Tim Brown (IDEO), Ed Catmull (Pixar) and Ricardo Semler (Semco). Each demonstrating how it is possible to revolutionise their industries through ground-breaking innovation whilst portraying authenticity.
They are not just looking for the magic bullet, they are looking to create it! Most commonly, Millennials are asking “what can I learn from the past that can help me and help humanity?” Where there is a drive to get to the top it is vision focussed. They think and feel for a broader and shared purpose. There is a profound level of internalisation in processing information with their values.
So what is driving this?
Millennials are raised listening to problems and issues facing us globally. Global warming, economic destruction of natural resources (e.g. deforestation, fracking). They have also grown up reading about corporate scandals and profits for shareholders at the expense of natural resources and the very customers’ they are serving. It will be this generation that will demand more from their providers.
For example, Peta wanted to know exactly which companies her Superannuation was being invested in. It was unconscionable for her to be directly or indirectly supporting organisations that were not aligned with her moral compass. Other Millennials were worried about being under constant surveillance. This was marked by them covering the camera on their mobile and laptop devices when not in use.
Millennials as leaders
Strong in purpose and vision: The deep level of grounding means that future leaders will turn this understanding into profound purpose. They will build slow hunches from complex, multi-layered information and stimuli. This will help them be more open to serendipitous opportunities without reacting to the market on a whim.
Connect and inspire: Millennials are the most connected generation in history so far. They look to collaborate and engage with others like them to realise the vision before focussing on profits. Given the process they have been through they are keenly aware of their limiting beliefs and thoughts. It is this aspect along with a strong vision that allows them to do three things;
- Their real connection with themselves will translate into real connection with the audience. They know their story, they know why they are in business. Millennials are able to bring in their vulnerability and radiate a sparkle that will not only move people, but will also bring them in to action.
- They will take to the stage with no hesitation. Authenticity shining through. Their Body language and tone of voice will naturally be congruent with the situation and the way they feel. These leaders will have no need for media training and image experts that the politicians and current CEOs rely heavily on
- Really listen to what is on the table, giving answers rather than becoming reactive.
Written by Maria Ioia,
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
The founder of the Market Intelligence Agency