In an unprecedented time, millennials have managed to survive and thrive.
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By Deborah Sweeney
In the early 2010s, the internet was flooded with articles discussing the role of millennials in the workplace. Arguments have been made to hire millennials and give them the opportunity to distinguish themselves in leadership positions. Others disagreed, arguing that millennials are too young for these roles and not ready to take the lead.
The world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. It is no longer possible to write about millennial youth because the generation has aged out of it. Millennials are now in their early to late thirties. Currently, the youngest people to be considered Millennials are 24 years old.
Many Millennials can remember the difficulties of graduating and finding post-graduate jobs during the Great Recession. However, the defining moment in the working life of a millennium – and for Gen Z the next generation to climb the corporate ladder – will be the Covid-19 pandemic.
The way we work overnight has changed so that employees can motivate and manage each other without being in the office. The uncertainty of Covid-19 also paved the way for entrepreneurship for many people of all generations. As of September 2020, more than 3.2 million employer identification number (EIN) applications have been made to start new businesses that year, according to the US Census Bureau. This corresponds to 2.7 million submitted at the same time in 2019.
In an unprecedented time, Millennials have managed to survive and thrive thanks to certain skills that enable them to remain resilient and agile as leaders and even as entrepreneurs. Now and in the future, these are the skills Millennials need to excel in leadership roles.
1. Emotional intelligence
Our changing world has tacitly reflected the value of emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workforce for several years. This is often referred to as the other kind of smart. It’s the notion that traditional benchmarks for intelligence, like high IQ, don’t always translate into excellence in the workplace. Emotional intelligence argues that people with four core competencies can actually experience the greatest success and satisfaction in their work than people without EQ.
What are these four core competencies?
- Self-confidence. This is the ability to understand and be aware of your emotions.
- Self-management. Understanding your emotions can help you develop personal competence. Therefore, you can potentially control your behavior in a positive way.
- Social awareness. Social awareness not only understands your own emotions, but it also enables you to grasp the emotions of others. This helps develop people skills and understand what happens under certain circumstances.
- Relationship management. Interactions, ranging from the way you work with customers to working with colleagues, are better managed when you pick up awareness in your emotions and the emotions of others.
You may read this and feel excited because you have the four core competencies. However, if you do not have emotional intelligence, it is still possible to develop it. Our brain has a so-called “plasticity”. Whenever we learn new concepts, brain cells grow and develop new connections. In fact, up to 15,000 connections can be made in a single brain cell. Connections made in one brain cell can branch and reach other brain cells, continuously making thousands of new connections.
In the long run, this allows us to develop emotionally intelligent habits. Becoming emotionally intelligent gives millennials in leadership positions the opportunity to be more empathetic to one another, to help with setbacks and to inspire one another to show themselves and do their best. The same applies to millennials in entrepreneurial roles. Those who own EQ have the option to find other people who also have emotional intelligence and hire them to join their respective teams and build their businesses.
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2. Nimble behavior
What do you think of when you think of someone who is nimble by nature? When I hear this word, I tend to think of entrepreneurs. A nimble approach means being flexible and fluid. Millennials understand that there are times when they need to stick to a script, and there are also moments when the script needs to be thrown away and rewritten.
When the unexpected happens, like a global pandemic, everything changes out of necessity. There are new customer needs to be met. It’s just not feasible to pretend nothing extraordinary is happening. Millennials who worked during Covid-19 will likely be able to remember at least one moment when they suddenly had to twist and transform their existing processes to get tasks done.
Fortunately, nimble behavior is not entirely unprecedented. Millennials have gone through massive changes. They understand that one of the keys to managing uncertain times is to accept uncertainty and be ready to act agile. Understanding how to completely scrap a plan, write a new one from scratch, and then work with the team to respond to it is an incredibly valuable skill in driving the post-pandemic forward.
Are there any other properties that I could have listed in this third slot? Certainly. I could have talked about how the innovative nature of millennials enables them to learn new concepts and adapt. Or I could have played the ever-popular millennial trait of being tech-savvy.
During the pandemic, I watched how the millennials on our team treat each other. While the focus is on working hard, team members have also found a way to check each other out.
In the midst of the pandemic health crisis, there is a mental health crisis. Employees around the world suffer from depression, anxiety, and burnout. On a different timeline, similar to the early 2010s mentioned above, you can find articles online on reasoning about how to avoid burnout at work. Now it has become a permanent issue that cannot be ignored.
Millennials prioritize people. If a colleague is behaving or appears dejected, they’ll be the first to pick it up. You will also be the first to try to offer help. “What can I do?” are you fine?” are two examples of questions you will be asking. Answers will help them find the root of the problem and provide support.
It is this type of support that is important across all generations. Regardless of what the workplace looks like in the future and how quickly we return to a “normal” way of life, continued support, care and concern for employees will be normalized forever.
About the author
Deborah Sweeney is the executive director of MyCorporation.com, which provides LLC company formation and incorporation services to entrepreneurs. See Deborah’s article and full bio on AllBusiness.com.
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This article was originally published on AllBusiness.