Ready for the Next Greatest Generation
I f you haven’t noticed, Millennials (born in 1980-2000) are in your organization and their numbers are growing. They don’t want much from their organizations. They’re looking for engagement – not being placed in a category, but right across your organization, at every level, every endeavor, every engagement. They’re part of a chain. Peter Drucker said marvelously, “Ask, don’t tell.” When we ask Millennials, “What would you think if we did this?” rather than telling them, “Now hear this!” they’re eager to engage. In the social sector and all other sectors, we need to continue to find ways within the organization to include, engage, and integrate Millennials. I would look at our board, our staff, our volunteers, and make sure that Millennials were represented at every level. Engagement is the most exciting part of this— Millennials don’t have to wait until they’re 45 to be on a Board. So, we ask ourselves: “When they (the people we want to bring into our organization) look at us, can they find themselves?” If the answer is “Yes,” we are part of the future. If the answer is “No, but we’re thinking about it…” we have already missed many opportunities. Today, we are more conscious of leadership. It isn’t just accepted. We define leadership by defining our values, and then we live them. Leaders are not all the same, but the successful ones are mission-focused, value-based, and demographics-driven.
For many years, I have defined leadership as a matter of how to be , not how to do . In the end, it is the values and principles we live that determine our performance and results. We never deviate from our values. When we live our values, we inspire other people to define their own values. Values aren’t something on a plaque or something you talk about – they’re something you live. In the mid-1800s, Emerson wrote, “Be an opener of doors,” and that’s what we can do. We can open doors all along the way, doors that have never been opened to Millennials. Now is the time. And when “they” look at us, if the answer is “Yes, indeed,” we are part of the future. It’s not all that different from the rush to bring in women leaders. I’m not a woman leader; I am a leader who is a woman. Gender does not define our leadership, nor does age. When Millennials can see leadership in this very positive way, when they realize that leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do, it becomes a very positive part of moving forward. We manage for the mission, we manage for innovation, and we manage for diversity. That’s our focus, and why our most successful, most inspiring leaders are mission-focused and value- based. And diversity is never a challenge, but an enormous opportunity. Based on a report from Barnes and Noble Col- lege, “The College Student Mindset for Career Preparation &Success,”Millennials have become the predominant force entering the workplace;
22 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine
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