Each generation applies fundamental characteristics of leadership in their own unique way. Trust is one of those characteristics that is noticeably different between generations. Each generation views it as an important leadership quality, they just look at it differently. The Millennial generation has a reputation for being open, self-assured, hopeful, well educated, and goal oriented. Millennials have benefited from each of the three older generations, learning allegiance and trust in organizations from Traditionalists, confidence and optimism from Baby Boomers, and a healthy dose of skepticism from Generation X. Millennials refocused the allegiance and trust in organizations they learned from Traditionalists to allegiance and trust in relationships. The confidence and optimism they learned from Baby Boomers helped Millennials turn the skepticism they learned from Generation X into an ability to look at the present more realistically than Baby Boomers, while still maintaining a positive outlook about the future.
Honesty and trust may be more important than ever in today’s world of social media and increased speed and breadth of communications. Leaders must quickly learn who they can trust in a world where messages and reputations are open to many viewers. This transparency leads to an understanding of the reasons behind a leader’s actions, which need to be for the right motivation, or the trust will be lost.
As an essential characteristic of leadership, there are three components of trust in the view of the Millennial leader:
- The organization’s vision should be trustworthy for all involved, i.e. for the greater good.
- Leadership is honest and transparent and can be trusted.
- Millennials are competent and can be trusted.
Millennials expect a lot of communications and feedback. Those in leadership roles want to know even more about their own performance, their team’s performance, and the company’s. Some recommendations for feedback to Millennials include:
- Updates on the vision and goals and how it relates to their role
- Status of their projects, including feedback on project success
- Individual feedback, with more responsibility after action or success
Millennial leaders often value the role of a coach or other role model in encouraging them to step into a leadership role or to recognize they were viewed as a leader and to embrace it. An additional aspect of the coach as a leadership influence is the disillusionment of learning, as these Millennial leaders have become adult leaders, that not all coaches are good, honest, and trustworthy.
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