Monday, May 21, 2012

Next Generation Leaders

Cheryl Lee Davis

We leaders, you and I, always want to be learning. Learning about leading means learning about our next generation leaders. It’s been a joy for me to lead these young women and learn from them. It’s been a joy to learn more about their leadership styles. Leading always takes listening and learning. But for Millennial Leaders, this is their sweet spot—it should be ours as well!.

I encourage you to dive in and get to know the generations around you. Spend time listening and learning. Here are a few values that matter to our upcoming generations of leaders:
  1. Team - Millennial and GenXers aren't taught to go it alone. Collaboration and teamwork have been part of their schooling and experience. Other generations must bend. Bend toward the many who want influence and a seat at the table. Be genuine. Sincerely engage them. Listen to their ideas and observations. Then accept their input and support them as they implement. Scary? You bet. Your leadership world is about to change!
  2. Social - Young leaders today are connected socially at all times. They are on social networking sites by phone, through tablets and computers. These leaders are almost never, NEVER alone, yet they are not with people as much as you might think. When it comes to the workplace, the face to face connection is needed. It's desired. Yes, as a leader today, you are going to have the opportunity to influence your team by sitting with them. They want to know you and see how you operate in life and in your leadership. They want to watch you, your character, and your tenacity when facing life's challenges. So, get ready, they are watching and waiting to connect with you relationally.
  3. Real - Leaders today know you are not perfect, so leave your mask at home. Show yourself for who you are: good and bad, strong and weak victorious and bent to temptation. You will trust them with who you are and in turn they will trust you.
  4. Flexible -- Leaders today are not singularly focused on what they have been trained or educated to offer through a volunteer role or ministry position. You can (and should) open doors of flexibility in tasks, roles, in forming vision and in brainstorming solutions. Whatever is needed, consider how you might incorporate more flexible thinking and leadership that make room to hear the voices and ideas around you.
  5. Work Hard, Play Harder -- We all know a leader who gives up everything for her job. Motivated by job security and advancement, power and the corner office, she lives at the office. The corner office doesn't even exist anymore! Today, leaders don't expect that their job will bring decades-long security. They look for other benefits-more internal value and a job that allows them to live a full life. This includes fun. Today's leader is a hard worker, for sure. But, she also wants space and place to play.
  6. Family - Related to the above, family matters and having a job that allows for leaders to be present in family activities is important to Millennial Leaders. Many if not most of our younger leaders experience broken homes and they want to avoid the same. Encourage the leaders around you to spend time with their family. Everyone benefits.  
  7. Work Has Meaning -- Leaders today are invested in organizations where the time investment they make has a deeper and long lasting effect beyond the paycheck or job title. Intrinsically, people want to be part of something greater than themselves. This is true for leaders today -- there is a strong connection between the work they offer and their passion and desire to see their world become a better place because of them!
Leadership matters. Our young leaders matter. Your engagement and investment in those around you will have a lasting imprint on their life. Make a difference today.

Cheryl Lee Davis serves as Vice President of Ministry Development with Stonecroft Ministries. She and her family live in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information about how to engage in the lives of women around you, go to

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