One heck of a pillow fight: Boomers vs Millennials

Using email does not make you a modern leader. Nor does having an iPhone make you relevant. Having a Twitter account doesn't make you a better leader. Unfortunately, neither does having a blog make you someone to follow. There is a one of kind leadership transition happening. Two different mentalities towards leadership. Boomers who think, "Work hard, prove it works, and then we'll follow you." versus the millennials mentality, "Show me the work has value then I might join you but I'd like things on my terms." Those of us in between have front row seats to a great fight, but it's pretty much a pillow fight.

Neither side will win because neither side will ever be able to land a blow that does any damage. The boomers will create systems of measurability and control. Boomers will press back against technology millennials embrace and use their age as an excuse but it's a method of control. Millennials, on the other hand, will ignore senior leadership and use technology to network amongst each other for new resources or they will create their own thing.

Is there any way the two could work together?

Of course there is. Let's talk about how:

First to the Boomers. If you want the millennial generation to join you you need to stop measuring production and start measuring your culture. Start asking questions like, "Are we doing what matters?" "Are we taking good care of our people?" "Are we taking risk on young people and giving them opportunities to lead?" "Are we helping our younger team members connect?" "Do we have a system that gives people the ability to speak into decisions?"

These questions do not take away control, they actually give you a better platform to lead from. The organizations asking these questions have no problem hiring young talent.

Now to the millennials. If you want to have more leadership work harder at the core principles of the team. Ask yourself questions like, "Do I know the core principles of this team?" "Am I successful at the basics or am I trying to get around entry level success?" "Do I seek out wisdom from those who have been successful at the core principles?" "Am I wanting success on my terms?"

It's important to demonstrate to older generations you value what made the team successful in the first place. The less you threaten those core principles the more you'll be invited to the conversation. Have a spirit of "better" and "bigger" will be a result. Bigger makes boomers feel successful.

Where do you see opportunities for boomers and millennials to work better together? Can you speak into your generations mistakes? Please leave comments below!


Are the millennials capable of leading?

The jury is still out.

At least the jury is still out in my head.  At times I see incredible potential.  At other times I see little to no desire to do anything other than self fulfillment.  For the most part they resemble their parents, a generation younger than the boomers, riding the an incredible wave of privilege from the boomer tsunami.  A world of great things with little sacrifice.  Yet for the millennials have been so steeped in care that universities are hiring staff to deal with helicopter moms and people are signing petitions for a bill to forgive all student loans in 2012 (maybe don't go to a college you can't afford?).

However every generation has it's underserved rights so why be worried about the millennials?  My concern is actually not them, it's those of us leading them.  Those of us leading them are allowing them to be directionless.  We blame their environment instead of challenging them to reach the next level.  We are not challenging them to live for something greater than themselves.  We've made their spiritual lives a convenient store and their work lives supposed guarantee return on  six to twelve years of college.  Both are false and paralyzing to their generation, so what can leaders be doing?

1.  Speak into their gifts without declaring them gifted - Everyone wins has translated to everyone deserves.  Art is a product of struggle, time, and development.  We should teach them to work in their gifting, not relax through it.  If you're gift is being a teacher it should not be the easiest path to early retirement.  Change the world of teaching or accounting or selling whatever it is they have chosen as a career.

2.  Let them fail - It's okay to fail.  For some reason we've protected them from failing and this is a huge step back.  Companies and organizations are struggling to find creative problem solvers because millennials have grown up on standardized testing.  Challenge them to try things out of the box and allow them to fail, it will be a blessing to all of us in the future.

3.  Make them read - The millennial generation is a product of viral.  They honestly believe that retweeting something is all the impact they have to have, so much so that they believe it is living a "missional" lifestyle.  It's like they have completed their civic duty by reposting a video on Facebook or purchasing a pair of Toms.  These are good things but f it doesn't require time than it's not missional.  Reading material with valuable leadership content will help them be more entrepreneurial and think outside the box in problem solving.

Let's not give up, let's lead better.  

What do you think about leading the millennial generation?



Get your butt in the room!

So we've been talking about millennials leading other millenials, which I think is so challenging.  The question has been how do we have EPIC leadership (Experiential, Participatory, Image driven, and Connected)?  So let's finish this sucker off and talk about the value of connectedness. Anyone who has ever led a team has felt the advantages of a connected team and the disadvantages of a disconnected team.  A connected team runs through walls together.  A disconnected team stops short on the charge and lets the leader run head first into the wall splitting his/her forehead open, drooling and screaming incoherently, and then weeping on the curb wondering where everyone else was when the wall fought back.  I've seen it a hudred times.

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So how do we create an environment where people feel connected to one another?  Really, the question is how do we create a community and not just a team?

Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (This is one of my must reads if you are a leader.  Get out from under the rock and open a book!) notes that the first breakdown of a team is absence of trust.  Lencioni's challenge is that vulnerability always begins with the leader.  I think this might be the scariest thing when leading your peers because it's like handing a shank to the person your sharing a prison cell with.  But here's the good news: the imperfect leader allows for imperfect people to do great things.

When imperfect people are engaged in changing the world they should recognize that not one of them is capable of fixing everything.  After all, they're imperfect.  If this is a faith based mission, prayer is the greatest resource to connect one another.  It's invaluable, because it allows the imperfect people to focus on the one who is able.

To paraphrase the author of Hebrews, let's not stop getting together in a room.  Because as soon as we stop meeting together, the wheels are going to come off this community and we are all going to be stranded not doing anything effective.  Meeting together is a principle but actually getting together is a practice.

Millennials need to get together in the same room often and pray together.  But don't we all?