Power Shift: Millennials are redefining leadership

Millennials are the important lot who find a mention in all the corporate strategy discussions as well as culture-led conversations. They have redefined the workplace, making organisations rejig their workplace policies to make it more conducive for them. The need is becoming more beseeching, with an increasing number of Millennials taking up leadership roles.

One of the key things that the conventional leaders struggle with is understanding the best practices of working with Millennials, as team members as well as leaders. Interestingly, Millennials not only have a different approach to leadership, but also have different expectations from leaders they work with.

Millennials are called ‘Millennials’, as they have a close relationship with the new millennium and digital world. This well aware generation is free-spirited and lives life on their own terms. Being the generation that saw the rise of the internet, Millennials love to create memories and have diverse experiences. They prefer a great work-life balance and have the aspiration to make a difference to the world at large. They enjoy working in teams and are tech savvy. For Millennials, jobs should align to their life and career goals. They tend to prefer organisations that have a purpose; and organisational culture is most important for them.

It has been predicted that by 2030, all of the baby boomers will have reached retirement and Millennial leaders will be a norm.

So, what do Millennial leaders do differently that is redefining leadership!

Evolution of the “Hero CEO” Archetype

Millennial leaders are everything but an imposing, infallible CEO. They have high respect for individual, and value traits of humility, transparency and collaboration. They focus on recognising both the strengths and weaknesses. Also, they prefer a flat management structure, minus hierarchies. They believe that it facilitates both communication and career development both upward and laterally.

Millennial leaders constantly strive to enhance their skill set and be better than what they were yesterday. They are open to feedback, irrespective of the designation of the person.  They value feedback as they are of the firm belief that as one rises up the corporate ladder, he/she loses sight of the challenges faced by other employees or stop valuing the experience of the lesser experienced ones. 

Emphasis on collaboration and flexibility over hierarchy and structure

Millennial leaders are all about collaboration. They work well with big teams and across multiple teams. Infact, they are very comfortable with dispersed teams. They work well by leveraging the strengths of various team members to achieve the bigger objective.

Millennial leaders are also supportive of a flexible work culture. They are quick to question a dated policy that might be existing for policy’s sake. They expect the organisation to evolve with the times and rehash their policies, to be in sync with the times.

Milllennial leaders also do not like formal hierarchies and robust structure or processes. They believe that flat organisations help employees to continuously explore, learn and grow. Also, they think processes hamper productivity and impact a free-thinking environment.

Millennials empower their team

Millennials prefer to work with leaders who let them be and trust them to deliver results. They like to take decisions on their own and are good in only following orders.

It is not surprising that when Millennials take on leadership positions, they work towards empowering their team. They build teams that can think on their own, take decisions and also be accountable for the projects that they are a part of.

Millennials also encourage their team to hone their skills and focus on building a career path for themselves. 

Do not worry about people and what they think

Millennial leaders are totally unperturbed about the conversations about them. They are aligned to their work and their bigger purpose in life. They do not bother about people’s judgements about them. They understand that people will make unjustified comments as they feel like and talk about the negative traits of Millennials. They understand that a lot of people will create roadblocks and demotivate them, as they strive to achieve success. Millennials ignore the ‘noise’ and focus on what they think is right.

Aligning work and life values

According to a recent Deloitte study, millennials are transforming the status quo by seeking purpose in the organisations they serve without sacrificing the flexibility. Millennial leaders are passionate and inclined to work for a social purpose. Hence, they give higher priority to social value, over a monthly paycheck. 

Be good

Millennials thrive on good relationships and enjoy networking. This is a huge advantage as Millennial leaders generally act as ‘connectors’ across an organisation. They work well across diverse teams and tend to be more effective when getting teams to deliver on a tight deadline. 

Millennial leaders help people find similarities across diverse group of people, find solutions to problems and help their team to achieve its goals.

Since Millennials focus on building a better bond with the members, they are generally good listeners and confidants. A Millennial leader tends to connect better with his/her team members and motivates them every time they feel low. Millennials encourages their team to take risks and experiment with out-of-the-box ideas. They encourage their team members to learn from their failures and keep trying.

Don’t give in

Last but not the least, Millennial leaders are not quitters and do not get impacted by pressure. They understand that since they come from a different generation and have a different perspective to things, they will face roadblocks, distrust and skepticism.

Millennial leaders are not impacted by criticism or roadblocks. They tend to see the positive side of things and focus on their passions and aspirations.

An organisation with only Millennial leaders is the future. Millennial leader will not only be redefining workplace and its culture, but also redefine the ‘CEO’ or a ‘Leader’ profile to ensure that the policies will benefit all and drive loyalty to the brand. The days of an intimidating CEO will soon be history as Millennials, who will be majority of the working population in the next 5-8 years, will prefer leaders who demonstrate softer skills over business knowledge. 

So, gear up for the ‘Power Shift’ as a transformed leadership style as Millennials begins ruling the leadership space across organisations.


Akanksha Jain
Akanksha heads PR and Communication at BharatPe. She has over 15 years of experience in working across global/digital public relations, corporate and brand communications, crisis communications, brand and market communications domains.

In the past, Akanksha has successfully planned and executed public relations/brands campaigns across India and over 30 other countries. She is a start-up specialist and has extensive experience of working with emerging brands. She has been associated with brands like Pine Labs, MobiKwik, VLCC and Power2SME and spearheaded their PR/brand/communication campaigns.

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