Leading a Generation of Free Agents
“Leading a Generation of Free Agents” by Tim Elmore
“I just had the most intriguing conversation with a local employer in Atlanta. He told me he’s at the end of his rope–and he’s about ready to see a therapist. The reason for his duress? The college graduates he recently hired. They were driving him crazy. When I inquired about what made them so challenging, he noted the following realities he faced:
* They came in with high expectations of relational time with him in order to be mentored
* They wanted time off to travel and participate in volunteer organizations around the world
* They expected a raise within the first six months, just because they showed up for work on time
* Their mother actually set an appointment to negotiate their raise for them
If you think this sounds crazy, think again. More and more, I am meeting corporate leaders who share the same basic story. This new population of Millennial generation kids (born between 1984 and 2002) are demanding a different work environment than the previous two generations. The Baby Boomers were “anti-establishment” but those rebels made up 79 million of the population. They questioned authority. Next, the Generation Xers entered the workforce. They were smaller in number and wanted to experience authentic community within their jobs. They ignored authority. Today, the Millennials (or Generation Y) come in raising the bar for everyone. Their expectations are high and they are in demand, with so many of the Baby Boomers retiring and leaving space atop the corporate ladder. These new workers will choose their authorities.
Let me give you an analogy. More than thirty years ago, the game of baseball experienced an amazing transition. Curt Flood, of the St. Louis Cardinals, ushered in the age of Free Agency. He was the first team member to successfully demand that players should have a say as to where and how long they play with a club. Following Curt Flood’s arbitration, professional players began to expect to spend some of their career as “free agents” having a choice about such things. It was a new day of privilege and power.
This same phenomena has occurred among twenty-somethings entering the job market today. They come in as though they were “free agents.” They fully expect to dictate some of the terms of their working conditions and they are liable to quit if they don’t get what they want. Over half of Generation Y’s new graduates move back to their parents home after earning their degree, and that cushion of support gives them the time to choose the job they really want…”
You are called to lead – those who are easiest are those that are just like you. But a mature leader knows how to lead well those that are like him or her and those who are very different. How’s your connection with the rising generation of emerging leaders?