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People Leadership, Organizational Agility, Success and… Millennials

People Leadership, Organizational Agility, Success and… Millennials

By Margo C. Metcalfe

How prepared are you, the leader, for the future?

I use the term “leader” to include anyone who has individuals reporting to them, including Senior Leadership and the C-suite. I avoid the term “manager” as it is defined as “to be in charge of”, with origins referring to the handling or training of a horse and later brought to the business world to mean “to control or direct by administrative ability”. In contrast, to lead is defined as “to show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them”, and in Old English was meant “to guide”.

Millennials, Inspiration, Motivation and Retention:

Do you remember all the emotion, anticipation and excitement when you landed your first professional job? I bet when you walked in the door at your new role, and every position since, you aspired to be a highly valued, high performing contributor. You arrived with your strengths and your hard-earned skills and knowledge, ready to roll up your sleeves and, with some guidance, become amazing. How long did the optimism and enthusiasm last? Where did it go, and, more importantly, WHY did it vaporize?

I am confident most of you have heard the lament, if not sighed it yourself, about the millennial employee: unreliable, entitled, changing jobs and expecting to have an impact in nine months. How fast has the door at your organization been revolving as yet another employee leaves and another comes in, leaving your organization with the cost of 1.5x the annual salary to replace them – again? Did the pool table, beer Fridays or the dog friendly policy slow the turnover?

Do you remember the reasons you left the roles you were so excited about? If not the end of a contract, was it because of leadership? Your manager? Did you feel valued or heard? Were you inspired?

Agile Organizations:

Enter Agile where, when well executed, small, multidisciplinary teams nimbly respond and adapt to rapidly changing opportunities.

McKinsey & Company, which specializes in global business analysis, note that of those organizations that have become successfully Agile, all have five things in common that they call trademarks of agility: *

  • Purpose by which they are guided, which is “obsessively customer focused” and committed to creating value for a wide range of stakeholders – including employees
  • Networks of small, empowered teams
  • Rapid decision and learning cycles
  • Dynamic people models that ignite passion
  • Utilizing next-generation-enabling technology

They also note that senior leaders of Agile organizations provide “frequent feedback and coaching that enables people to work autonomously toward team outcomes”.

And what does this have to do with millennials?

Three of these agility trademarks align with what millennials, if not all of us, seek in employment: Purpose, Empowerment and Growth.

Leadership that supports both successful Agile organizations AND millennials is one that ignites and develops the strengths of its people, enables a strong community which supports and grows its culture, and fosters entrepreneurship and innovation.

Leaders who are skilled coaches enable a successful Agile culture. They also have a profound impact on organizational performance, including increased revenue and employee retention.

Remember that job where you aspired to be a highly valued, high performing contributor with opportunities to become amazing? If your leader had heard you, encouraged you to explore, take little chances, make small failures and learn, contribute to the team and success of the organization, valued your contributions, coached you to be “better” and ignited your imagination and passions, would you have left?

Whether you are shifting to an Agile model or not, if your team members, regardless of their generation, feel valued, heard, inspired and believe they are contributing to something meaningful, and have opportunities to grow their strengths, then innovation and creativity will abound, quality talent will be eager to join you and the talent you have won’t want to leave.

Are you ready?

* The Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations five-trademarks-of-agile-organizations


About Author

Margo C. Metcalfe is a Leadership Coach and Business Consultant with experience across multiple industries and sectors. She works with individuals and groups, and collaborates with an International Coaching Federation (ICF) award-winning organization specialized in training leaders to be coaches. Contact Margo.


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