To become a great leader, I believe you first need to be a great learner. I’ve been very lucky to have been surrounded by some great teachers in my career, but it took me some time to appreciate what “surrounded” really meant. In the beginning of my career, I only looked upwards for help, advice and lessons. I assumed that my seniors would be the best source of knowledge, but have since realised that I was only considering one small slice of the whole learning pie available.
Truth is, some of the very best learnings come from colleagues of all levels, all tenures, and all ages. Each has invaluable nuggets of wisdom coming from their different life journeys, career experiences, and backgrounds.
My most recent revelation has been to tap into the millennial intelligence. Since joining the workforce, millennials have pushed leaders and organisations to challenge the status quo and evolve, making our business better and more innovative. Here are a few things I’ve learnt from this generation using in my own career.
I love that millennials are mission-driven and have a burning need for purpose. They actively use their voice to be a part of the conversation. Social media has incubated this bringing this drive into the rest of their life too. Because of this, I’ve learned to lead in a new way, proactively looking for ways to be more collaborative, and be more inclusive of all thoughts, experiences, and backgrounds.
Be unique and be different
Millennials are authentic, they stick to their principles and stay true to themselves, sometimes to the frustration of other generations! They don’t want to blend in, they want to celebrate their uniqueness. The truth is that I also want to be unique and special, don’t you? Millennials have taught me to put my unique self out there more - I’m letting my special shine!
Don’t forget to enjoy the journey
My generation is default wired to solve for security - having a roof over my families head, my pension and health cover, etc. These are valid, but millennials place life experiences on the level of same importance. It’s a great reminder to enjoy life, to take time off from work, travel, spend time with family.
Expect more, and don’t expect the worst
Millennials are natural optimists. Having grown up in a recession, they exude a sense of determination, self confidence and energy that's truly infectious to be around. They've taught me to aim high, assume the best outcome and to appreciate the power of belief.
Embrace technology to expand your reach
Sometimes unfairly stereotyped as being addicted to social media and online - the reality is millennials are just connected way better than any generation before. The questions that my generation wrestled to solve are tackled almost instantly by millennials who have near unlimited access to global knowledge. I’m very lucky to be around smart, tech savvy people 24/7 and they’re constantly reminding me that technology can break glass ceilings allowing us to take on greater challenges and stretch ourselves.
Being a millennial isn’t an age thing, it’s an attitude thing
For me the term “millennial” has transcended the simple generational label, it’s actually more of a state of mind and an attitude - and if that’s true and anyone (of any age) can join the millennial club then sign me up!
This article was originally published in the July issue of Cara Magazine, available on all Aer Lingus flights.