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4 Skills Millennials Bring To Leadership Positions

When we talk about Millennials in the workforce, the conversation is often framed in the negative: Millennials complain too much. They’re impatient and unfocused. They need constant praise. But the reality is, from the way they were raised to the economy and world they inherited, Millennials have been dealt a difficult hand. However, among the generation’s defining characteristics are some skills and habits that could make them remarkably successful leaders. Here are four traits we often attribute to the Millennial generation that any leader would do well to emulate.

They’re willing to speak out.
When Millennials are dissatisfied, they’re more likely to speak out about what’s bothering them, compared to older generations who tend to fear rocking the boat. If change is to be affected, someone must have the courage to speak truth to those in power and Millennials are well-suited to the task. In order to speak truth to power effectively, it’s important to know how to communicate criticism so it’s received as constructive feedback rather than complaint. Since Millennials are more willing to speak up, when they deliver feedback tactfully, they can serve as valuable barometers to measure how the rest of the company is feeling.

They’re natural entrepreneurs.
Millennials are more likely to freelance or start their own businesses than other generations, partly because of the economy they’ve had to navigate, and partly because they are less satisfied with the status quo than previous generations. When focused within an existing company, that entrepreneurial drive can help businesses find unexpected solutions to longstanding problems. Millennials who are working for an employer should aspire to become intrapreneurs: someone within an organization who seeks out opportunities for innovation. Change requires risk, and part of what makes Millennials so entrepreneurial is their risk-taking nature. For that reason, they’re a great fit for projects that require constant change and quick decision making—the types of projects that can turn a company around.

They project confidence.
Millennials often feel far less confident than they appear, but they still project confidence better than most. Confidence, perceived or otherwise, is key in building relationships and influencing decision-makers. Millennials can be incredibly successful in roles that require these skills when they have the support of more experienced colleagues to help them learn and grow.

They’re inclusive.
Millennials tend to be more comfortable working with people of other backgrounds, and they can help organizations become more inclusive by speaking up when they see an opportunity to change. Whether that means changing the wording of a job description or challenging the way raises and promotions are determined, Millennials can help their employers find blindspots in their practices to create a more welcoming environment for all employees.

Now that they make up about half of the workforce, it’s time to shift focus from how to lead Millennials to how Millennials can succeed as leaders in their own right. By exercising some of these common traits, Millennials can create their own style of leadership and have a powerful impact on their companies and communities.

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