Millennials are a bright, young and wide eyed, eager for instant success generation that grew up in times around the turn of the millennium (the year 2000). However, the majority are laid back, work phobic individuals content to follow anything that is trending. While millennial adore celebrities, the millennial culture can hardly be described as “go getting” even though they are awed by innovations and new releases of old products. The millennials grew up in a world of high provision and have managed to globalize and make normal a culture of what used to be for “spoilt rich kids”. But why must we even consider millennial attitudes on leadership. The truth is the millennial generation will soon be occupying both local and global leadership positions and therefore we must be prepared for a change of guard in leadership styles, approaches and principles in this generation. The challenge with millennials is not that they can’t be led, it is that that they do not know what they want. The millennial culture considers achievement or success without application of effort as legitimate and something to be emulated.
While the age old virtues of leadership like character, discipline, hard work, ethics, sacrifice determination, responsibility, teamwork and integrity and other like values have been pre-requisites for the identification, selection and appointment of leaders and leadership assignment, the millennial culture of individualism, instant-self-gratification and moral indifference does not make for the effective development of traditional leaders. Indeed anyone that practices traditional virtues may be shunned if not looked down upon by a fun loving crowd. This would mean that either a new type of depraved leadership would emerge to satisfy the needs of filial millennial followers. Or that the role of leadership will be reassigned to the lowly less fortunate in society who cannot afford to participate in the millennial culture. Nonetheless, the apathy of the millennial culture towards leadership has so challenged the values and principles of hard work, ethics, social order and governance that perhaps for the first time in the history of the world the offices of leadership will pass from the rich to the poor, from the knowledgeable to the ignorant and from the moral to the depraved in one generation! Simply because millennials would not care less who does leadership for them so long as they are able to continue having fun. This generation will redefine leadership in ways we can only imagine.
One could say that Millennials present a leadership challenge or that they are providing leadership, but then perhaps it is time we reviewed what we need in our leaders quite apart from what we want from them. Popular sentiments are hardly the way to define the character of leadership because popular sentiments change all the time. Is there a leadership core that is immutable or leadership simply a tool of him or her who has it? These are questions the millennial generation poses to leadership everywhere.