Many employers often see employees of the millennial generation (those born post-1985) as unreliable, egocentric and in perpetual need of instant gratification. This is not necessarily the case, according to David D. Bernstein, author of the book “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping our World.

In his book, Bernstein says millennials are forging a revolution in the workplace, which will cause drastic changes to how businesses are run in the future. “Millennials are more global, more tolerant, more diverse, more educated, more connected, and bigger than any generation before them,” said Bernstein.

“They embrace change. They are the only generation to come of age with one foot in the old world of pre-internet, pre-Facebook, pre-computer, doing their first research projects in libraries, and another foot in the digital era.”

What is Leadership to a millennial?

The millennial’s view of leadership is quite different from that of the older generations. Younger workers are part of a generation that’s moving away from traditional, structured leadership. They prefer a flatter business organisation where collaboration is key, rather than hierarchical management. This means that, over the next decade and more, the future of leadership within businesses will likely have to change in order to attract top millennial talent.

Those employers looking to groom an up-start millennial for a leadership position, there are some very important qualities to consider before you take your eager apprentice under your wing:

Commitment to the job

We were all young once and it is not hard to recall the times early in our career when work came a distant second to the hedonistic qualities of the weekend or after-work drinks. While it is important to have a healthy work/life balance, future leaders will likely be those who you can see putting in the hard yards in their twenties. These candidates will generally seem eager to take on extra work and won’t mind working late to complete tasks. They also prefer to face challenges head on rather than run away from them.

Controlling impulsive actions

One of the main gripes employers have about the millennial generation is their short attention span and constant need for gratification, rewards and bonuses. They are not totally to blame for this attitude. Part of it is down to the world they have grown up in.

Nowadays, all the answers to any question is in the palm of our hand, retail therapy is just a click away, and the ever pursuit of Facebook ‘likes’ is an addictive self-esteem boost for a needy generation. Such distractions cause young workers to have less emotional control and patience than older staff. When considering job candidates, look for those that have shown an ability to control impulsive actions and can hold their focus to the tasks at hand.


Communication is a quality that is important to every generation. You should never consider someone for a ‘leadership’ role if they cannot communicate effectively. As mentioned before, the perceived problem with millennials is their restlessness and impatience. This can sometimes be construed as selfish or arrogant behaviour, which can rub more seasoned employees the wrong way. Future leaders should have an ability to communicate well with all ages and across multiple platforms. They will even know how to inspire others with their passion and approachable manner.

Leveraging and implementing new technology for the business

As the Internet of Things and Digital Disruption weave themselves into every facet of business, it is the millennials who the older generations will turn too to spearhead the change. After all, millennials have the advantage of growing up in the new digital age and as such are ideally equipped to implement the latest technology for business. A millennial leader is a great candidate for businesses looking to embrace the digital revolution. They can leverage the benefits of technology to streamline and improve processes in the business. In turn, they can also improve the innovation and profitability of your business in the future.

Author: Andrew Morris is the Director of Queensland and Western Australia at Robert Half, and is based in the firm’s Brisbane office. Andrew relocated from Hong Kong in July 2011, where he was Robert Half’s Director of Greater China. He uses his knowledge, expertise and experience of the Australian and Asian recruitment markets to offer clients, candidates and the media a regional perspective on recruitment trends.

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