What Millennials Told CEOs They Want from Leaders

USC Marshall School Students

USC Marshall School Students

Ever wonder what Millennials would tell CEOs if they had the chance? Well, at our most recent CEO Connection Forum in LA we asked a group of students from USC’s Marshall School of Business to do just that.

This is the summary report we sent to our full membership of mid-market CEOs:

In most respects, Millennials are similar to other generational cohorts of the same age. The huge difference is that they are children of the information revolution. Information is so available, raw, and incomplete that they need to be inspired with meaning and enabled to work in different ways than previous generations.

What we heard was:

Information is more readily available.

Millennials simply see more than previous generations. They feel more connected. They are more concerned about the world, about being green, about sustainability. They find and digest information incredibly quickly. Access to massive amounts of information in the Web makes real and anecdotal knowledge accessible 24/7, and heightens awareness of opportunities and different ways of doing things. Given this, they:

  1. Expect decisions to be made quickly.
  2. Expect free access to information. No “need to know” limitations most of us grew up adhering to.
  3. Do not see the work life divisions on which previous generations built careers. Work and “real” life blend in terms of hours and relationships. As one student remarked, “What I do is incredibly convergent with who I am.”
  4. Live and work in a global context.
  5. Expect companies to have and live appealing values (giving back, green …). Having strong, good values is a requirement, not a plus. Not having strong, appealing values is definitely a negative.

Information is raw.

Millennials (and the rest of us) are inundated with a “big pipe” of both good and bad information. Given this, Millennials may need help filtering the information coming their way and developing the discipline to deliver results. They also may need guidance to stick with less enchanting, expertise building job experiences.

Information is incomplete.

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The headline-driven information pipeline puts emphasis on ideas over precise execution. Thus it’s no surprise that Millennials have relatively short attention spans. They want jobs that build their resumes and further their careers quickly. They do not expect to stay with companies for a long time. However, if presented with an explicit, attractive “opportunity contract” that is a fair give/get proposition, they want to commit.

The implications for those leading Millennials are to:

  1. Inspire with meaning – explain how their jobs fit into the organization’s purpose, which in turn is bettering the world.
  2. Enable them to work in their way – the main reward is respect. Give them structure, leadership, guidance. Leverage their bias to work in networked teams, supported by the electronic tools they are so familiar with as they multi-task and blur the lines of work and personal life.

Does this resonate with your personal experiences? Please share in the comments!

CEO Connection is the only membership organization in the world focused exclusively on mid-market CEOs. This exclusive organization connects thousands of mid-market CEOs and rising CEOs with each other and to people, information and resources which will help them succeed. If you are the CEO of a company with more than $100 million in annual revenues, CEO Connection offers the benefits and support you deserve. Click here to learn more. ~

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