millennials and leadership

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Getting Tomorrow's HR and HR Technology Leaders to Actually Listen, Reflect, Aspire, Lead, Serve

About The HRIS World Transformational Leadership Series™ #thwTLS

Leadership needs to change with change -- and yet still discern what and which principles should not be forsaken.

The HRIS World Transformational Leadership Series™ takes both a high-level as well as up-close look at what it takes to inspire commitment so to achieve the vision of a preferred future, the very definition of Transformational Leadership.

Hashtag for The HRIS World Transformational Leadership Series™ is #thwTLS

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About The HRIS World Millennials Series™ #thwGenY

We are going to summarize a video provided by Simon Sinek, who has said and shared a lot of things we have already discussed in our newsletters and blogs...

Born 1984 and after, Millennials are accused of being entitled, narcissistic, unfocused, lazy. They do, however, want to work with a purpose, they want to make an impact, they want free food and bean bags (not necessarily the last two, just seeing if you are paying attention!). Yet, give them everything they want, and they are still not happy (truthfully, has anyone really been happy about getting anything, never mind everything, when always easily gained?).

This unhappiness has roots in their upbringing, in their use of technology, their impatience, and our environment...

  • The failed parenting strategies in which they were raised provoked more long-term problems than resolved. Let's face it, the parenting styles used to raise this generation tried to circumvent several principles everyone knows is true, some of which are: You reap what you sew, you can't sharpen a knife on a sponge, facing the pain you are going through today will minimize an even greater pain later. Instead, the parenting styles that were chosen focused heavily on issues that mostly could have been resolved over time that would have provided lessons learned early on in life. Those early lessons would have provided opportunities to build character which would have prepared their children for life after school, for the real life. This costly mistake has resulted in a generation that has, as far as we know, the lowest self-esteem than any previous generation. This means there are a sufficient number of Millennials, who are now the largest portion of the workforce, are going to need direction and guidance in overcoming an inhibiting lifestyle from what has essentially not been their fault.
  • Next on the list of root causes of the Millennials unhappiness is the lack of balance in using technology. This imbalance has allowed Millennials to filter nearly everything around them. This filtering process has kept them from really conversing which would lead to developing meaningful relationships, has kept them from learning how to work in teams, and has kept them from learning how to develop trust. They do this filtering via technology as it feels good. A Harvard study, completed in 2012, has shown that dopamine is released anytime one talks about themselves through social media (if not familiar, dopamine is the same chemical released when we smoke, drink, or gamble and the release of dopamine forms an addiction when it is not tempered). As the use of social media can provide a high level of dopamine, it makes social media and cell phone usage highly addictive. Truthfully, it is comparable to being provided all the smokes, alcohol, and gambling they wanted at a very young age. Yet, we have restrictions on smoking, alcohol, and gambling and none on the smartphone and social media usage. As a result of what amounts to a full access to a quick fix during the childhood and adolescence, what has been permitted in their childhood and adolescence has created an entire addictive adulthood generation that is numbed by a chemical called dopamine. And they are addicted in their personal lives, their work lives, their social lives, every level of their lives. Like ANY addiction, this dependency has deprived them of learning how to form deep meaning relationships as well as how to cope with stress that comes into their lives. Like ANY addiction, they are not turning to a person but to a device. This has lead to a higher rate of depression in a young generation. These addiction traits, however, can be stopped when one sees the value of a life outside of their addiction -- only now there is a higher level of pain involved as a habit needs to be broken, and new disciplines formed to develop new habits. The good news is they will be all the better for it.
  • Millennials are an impatient lot. Any time they want to do something, it is almost always immediately available for their participation - watch a film, read a book, ask someone out on a date, even ordering something on Amazon. This results in the failure to learn the life skill of being patient. This has minimized the social coping mechanisms all previous generations had to learn. Everything is instant gratification... except for job (or career) satisfaction and strength of relationships. Millennials have not learned that social coping skills are slow, meandering, messy processes. They have also never been taught that the most treasured and valuable things in life are arduous, long, and difficult in gaining. All this amounts to never having learned how to build joy into their lives.
  • Lastly the traditional company environment of short-term gains and funneling employees into positions where they either sink or swim will, with Millennials, result in a labor shortage never seen before. As Millennials want to learn, want to perform, want to make an impact, the traditional environment is not only unnecessary but minimizes the honing and growth of these desires. And their willingness is half the corporate battle, as many who have the hard skills do not have the proper soft skills that are necessary to carry out the hard skills successfully and fully. Companies need to learn how to teach Millennials how they can build confidence, how they can learn the skills of co-operation, how they can learn to overcome the challenges of a digital world while also finding a sense of balance, how they can learn to overcome instant gratification. All this will provide everyone -- the older generation, the businesses, the Millennials, the joys, impacts, fulfillments, and trust that one gets from working on something for a long time. We can not correct the problem we have created with the Millennials by using the same thinking that created the problem in the first place -- we have to think differently, which means actions must be different as well.

How can we, as leaders for the Millennials, do all this? Well, we ourselves have to relearn, and in some cases learn anew, the principles, laws of life, and the means that builds character. This is not something that should ba balked at -- there is a blessing to be had by us as people, businesses, as well as the Millennials as all will become stronger as a result, and that blessing will be in direct proportion to the effort put forth. This is a principle of relationships that transcends cultures, generations, genders, even IQ levels.

If you are interested in seeing the entire conversation by Simon Sinek, just click here.

Feel free to reach out to us if you wish to contribute some of your thoughts via a post by clicking the contact us button on the lower right of any page. Feedback, debates, discussion, collaboration and conversation are always encouraged in the comments section below... For more information about this series, use the blue contact us button on the lower right of your screen to contact us -- or if you are reading this by our newsletter, then hit the reply button to get back to us!

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Better yet, are you, as a current leader, listening? reflecting? aspiring? leading?

If not, then how can we mentor and request tomorrow’s HR & HR technology leaders of tomorrow to do the same?

If yes, are they instilling the necessary skills while they are mentoring those who will lead in the future?

The Millennials are unique and their mentoring will have to be different to focus on what the deprivation they experienced from failed parenting and the failed authorities who guided them until they were 18 years old or even older.

Let’s step back a bit to share the genesis of this post before getting into its purpose and I am going to focus on the older generation first.

Not out of accusing guilt — but to bring focus on the trickle-down effects of poor leadership.

Real Life Example

In our content collection The HRIS World Project Insights Series™, our post “Would These 2 Things Make a Difference in Your Projects?” focuses on the early phases of an HRIS implementation project — specifically, the phase before and during the acquisition of a new system.

During negotiations in hiring the services, my previous consultancy company (CGServices USA Inc.) would present plans and steps needed for a full needs assessment for client approval.

The needs assessment process followed Best Practices in gaining full knowledge and awareness of the client’s current situation before diving into the looking for a system- and we did this be following the 4 areas of knowledge awareness…

  • Discovering the things we know we know
  • Discovering the things we know we don’t know
  • Discovering the things we don’t know we know
  • Attempt to discover the things we don’t know we don’t know before they discover us

If they already had a system in mind, performing the assessment and presenting the findings were kept totally separate so to eliminate any preconceived beliefs as well as biases.

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Performing a full needs assessment was usually a tough sell as it placed a lot of resources, time and energy up front — this is not what most are comfortable with as they are accustomed to minimizing the number of resources, the amount of time and energy in the early phases of any project for various reasons so to ‘save’ the budget for the more demanding tasks later in the project.

Information from these assessments was collected for their first 10 projects, providing a full range of data from implementations small (250 employees) to large (more than 100,000 employees).

From this, they created a model that would provide scalability, sustainability, as well as reassessment, training, and maintenance recommendations — with an eye on what the future technology was thought to be bringing to the table.

We discovered after a full and properly performed needs assessment, clients would be far more knowledgeable of their weak points as well as what was missing and were better equipped to assess what needs to be addressed before diving into purchasing a new system.

Clients that elected not to have a full needs assessment always resulted in resources needing to change their plans and direction to accommodate their predicament, which would result in sliding the timeline to accommodate the new path the project took on – which inevitably led to budget overruns and late deliveries.

Those that elected to have a full needs assessment would find their project less prone to surprises and more focused on the task at hand — which resulted in fewer and smaller slides, if at all, in the timeline.

In the later scenario, the collective magnitude of the surprises and unexpected discoveries were so small that shifts within the project didn’t impact the overall timeline and the budget.

Selling the client on a full needs assessment was usually a lot of work, however, it never failed to pay off in the long run as long as the client listened and reflected on our findings which in turn allowed them to inspire and lead their own people effectively.
leadership strategy

Is This Real Leadership?

The point of all this
is not the failure to perform
the needs assessment out of ignorance,
but the failure of leadership
to make itself available
to learn, to reflect, to reflect…

In my experience in all cases that, without exception, ignored this crucial step saw very challenging implementations as compared to those that chose to focus on this step.

The excuses varied — but there really was not any reason not to do a needs assessment given its benefits.

The 3 most important organs any leader has,
any person has,
is his or her heart, brain, ears…

Words affect what we believe, which affects what we believe is true and not true — ears allow us to engage the brain and heart in discerning wisely when the person is listening – by the way, hearing is not listening, it is appeasing.

Discernment should be a character trait of every leader – unfortunately, this is very low or non-existent priority in the skills many companies seek of their future leaders as well as in their programs to hone future leaders.

Knowledge is a great thing but look around you, better yet observe what you are seeing — without wisdom, knowledge can and does make the greatest intellect look like a fool.

And fools never do very well in the trust department, especially with those that already wiser.

The HR and HR technology industries are not the only industries to see a slow deterioration of leadership standards, best practices, servitude, and efficiencies in the last few decades – this has happened to the point that many leaders do not even realize they are their own cause for their problems and failures.

If it hasn’t, then why do Lolly Daskal, Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek have such a solid following?

By solid, I mean having followed them for years, even decades, that can provide testimonies to the effectiveness of the principles and laws these thought leaders share…

To the credit of some leaders, there has been an improvement in recent years — but the consensus and the results say this is more the exception than the rule.

Meanwhile, when the crap hits the fan once everything falls apart in a project, executives are usually pointing at the vendor, the consultants, the project team, even the previous leadership – is this real leadership?

Or is this just scapegoating by deflecting the blame via bypassing accountability and responsibility?

A true leader knows humility is the best means to deal with a problem and will do so by serving others along the way — and there are times when addressing the problem sternly is needed, especially either not adhering to or completely ignoring instructions in the first place.

Leaders should also accompany all this with a consistent and steady stream of questions with very little sharing of opinions.

When was the last time your leader did this?

If you have a leader that does do all this, be sure to honor them — they are indeed a rare breed.

If you are a leader then when was the first time you did this?

If you have followers that need motivation, nothing will do it any faster than humility.

The seeds we plant in anything determines what we have in the future for everything — if believe our leaders today suck, we have only ourselves to blame, not the younger generation, not the consultants, not the vendors.
Amy Morin Bestselling Mental Strength Author
We are either contributing to the problem or we are doing something to solve the problem in everything we do – period.


When we take on the attitude
that what happens around us
is FOR us and not to us,
we have taken the first step
to resolving our leadership problem —
that includes non-leaders as well!

You will, once you have full realized this, be able to fully empower not only yourself, but those around you as well — and not just in work.

There are no victim cards to be handed out when accountability and responsibility are owned and exercised with humility.

82 Years of Change Management Success with Just 12 Ideas

Most are familiar that AA has a 12-step program, one that has a long-running success in using change management within people for 82 years.

The 12th of the 12 step program AA is the most powerful of them all — you can do all 11 steps beautifully but if you do not get involved with the 12th step, you will definitely fall off the wagon and have to start from Step 1 once again…

The 12th step is to sponsor someone into sobriety – to mentor, guide, listen, and above all, serve…

It is a very powerful of a step as it sets you free from your past and plants seeds of compassion, love, knowledge, and hopefully wisdom, into others.That action alone will set you free and very liberating from your past – it is also something for everyone to think about for anyone troubled by something they had not control over in their past…

That action alone will set you free and is very liberating – it is also something for everyone to think about for anyone troubled by something they had not control over in their past…

‘Nothing worse than returning home from a trip and never unloading all that baggage…’ – my grandfather talking about his own troubled past…

Same for  Millennials and their upbringing – they have formed dependencies that trigger dopamine, the same chemical that is released when you drink, use drugs, gamble… the same chemical that is released when you get a message or a like on facebook or other social media platform.

Break Millennials of that dopamine kick and you will empower them to do what needs to be done instead of what feels good — and they will set themselves fully free by mentoring others to do so as well.

Control Things, Manage People

Too many leaders — and followers — control people and manage things…

As leadership is all about serving, who are they serving? The vendors? The machines?

To serve at any level one must control things and manage people.

People that love liberty reject being controlled, reject controlling people.

Remember Aldous Huxley?

The end cannot justify the means,
for the simple and obvious reason
that the means employed
determine the nature
of the ends produced.

Simply put, controlling people and managing things means the leader – or person – is treating people as the means and things as the ends.

People are the ends that utilize things as a means to come to an end: a finished product of quality, a completed project on time and within budget, a service that has been delivered to the satisfaction of the recipient.

Where Is Your Focus?

We are in the people building business, even when skills and talent are focused purely on machines — hermits aside, there is hardly a human alive that does not want to form a connection.

Connection means relationships — and relationships require building, maintaining, attention, focus, energy… mentoring, leading, serving…

History has provided enough examples to show during hard economic times, much of the quality of leadership deteriorates.

Many leaders make the mistake of blaming the economy instead of seeking ways to be effective as well as efficient with their people.

The faulty thinking of these leaders is with the thought that they will correct that problem later and will just have to live with the problem for now.

Granted, sometimes this is necessary – but not very often and not for very long, even in the worst of economic times.

The pain we endure today lessens the pain we have to face later, all of it resulting from appeasing the situation — whether you are a leader or not.

Most military leaders will tell you to it is critical to contain a problem immediately and provide blocks that prevent the problem from being included in other circles — that is, you control it, never let it control you.

The mindset and beliefs that accompany all this have to be tested at all times, not just when circumstances say they should — both mindset and beliefs are the result of the voices we constantly listen to (and eventually agree with) without so much as standing back, assessing, and properly identifying just what is the real problem.

Most of the time, we find ourselves focused on the symptom, not the problem – that’s where we always, always, always get into trouble.
where we focus is where we end up

Where We Focus is Where We End Up

In the quest for resources with accredited and certified skills, one ability is nearly overlooked by many – an ability to manage time, people, efficiencies, and services effectively.

Being accredited or certified with certain leadership skills just means the person knew how to answer correctly on a test.

There are still to questions that have yet to be answered that only time and experience will provide:

Are the tests for certification reflective to the current business needs and demands of today (usually yes, but dangerously no too often)?

Can this person effectively translate what he or she knows in content into the context of a situation?

Or are they reflective of just the theory and hypothesis being presented in the classroom?

How many times have we seen someone build context around content so to look good, only to fail miserably as everything comes crashing down like a house of cards?

Leaders usually get into trouble when they start failing to discern between efficiency and effectiveness, between leading and servitude, between people and things — they may start out great but eventually they lose that focus and that discernment fades as their focus shifts from leading from the ears and heart to leading from the head.

Will Tomorrow’s IT Leaders Listen? Reflect? Aspire? Lead?

When Focus Is On Effectiveness

When there is a disorder, there is pain – when there is order, there is little if any pain.

What may have been effective yesterday, or even this morning, may not be effective today or this afternoon.

Listening, asking questions that focus on their focus, on what they found to be effective, on why they are doing what they are doing will get your followers motivated.

Why is not ‘what’ or ‘how’ and you may have to point that out to them.

If they do not know why offer suggestions that instill empowerment and stay away from anything that instills enabling.

This is effective leadership – it results in inspiring your followers.

Why Great Leaders Are Orderly

Everyone’s decisions are affected by experiences, knowledge, emotions, who we listen to, who we do not listen to — even fatigue has an effect.

Most bad decisions are made when tired – this is known by most.

Pain is the presence of disorder – there will always be those that love disorder and those that love order.

If you love disorder in your life, then all the more power to you.

But many are standing back and assessing why all the pain.

They are looking for guidance as to how to reduce this pain and they have some very good ideas.

They also are willing to listen and become the leaders of tomorrow.

If you keep getting the feeling you are looking at the tail lights of someone or something, if you are constantly in pain with a project, then you are not the leader…

The people asking the right questions are leading, my question is this: do you like where you are standing or where they are going?

Will Tomorrow’s IT Leaders Listen? Reflect? Aspire? Lead?

Age has nothing to do with wisdom – we all know very wise children of 7 years and very foolish adults of 70 years…

Nor does certification have anything to do with wisdom, though it does have value.

If you are using Microsoft or Apple software or machines, then you are using the innovations of two men who never completed their education.In my 20 years, I have consulted

In my 20 years, I have consulted for many people who have gained their advanced degrees from college yet I have only completed a couple of years of college.

I am no Bill Gates nor am I a Steve Jobs.

I am, however, very capable of seeing what is not working and what is working without a textbook telling me what to do, or by listening to a professor that has never worked in the field.

There are a lot of great professors, but these almost always the great professors have a life outside the classroom and have been involved extensively in a practical manner in what they teach.

In both the real world and the world of academia, it is widely known that there is a huge disparity between what is being taught and what the business world needs from recent graduates.

I am not condoning the education industry – the education system is due for a change as well, and many know this as well.

What am I saying?

There are many young workers that are discontented in the way things are managed, taught, and utilized today – and many of those are tomorrow’s leaders.

The least we can do is hear them out AND listen to them – then let them have their time in leadership.

They will make mistakes, like anyone doing something for the first time will…

Like you did when you first started leading.

We need to cultivate their future by giving leadership to those that are sensitive enough to listen, strong enough to lead, wise enough to reflect, and big enough to provide aspirations…

If we cannot inspire them, then what incentive do they have to inspire their own?

Please share your thoughts, experiences in our comments section just above the footer below.

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Garrett O'Brien

CEO, Chairman, Publisher, Editor at The HRIS World Research Group

Garrett is the publisher, editor, writer forThe HRIS World Research Group, which includes The HRIS World, The HRIS World Research, The HRIS World Jobs, The HRIS World News, The HRIS World NewsMagazines, and The HRIS World Videos

With more than 20 years in roles as a client executive sponsor (#thwCES), project manager as well as functional/technical lead, Garrett is sought for his expertise for project insights, thought leadership, and team management globally.

He has been involved in large-scale and complex implementations since 1991 and has recently moved his operations to be with his wife in Brazil.

Garrett has had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest talents in the industry, and constantly shares his experiences and knowledge through content and webinars.

He maintains his fluency in Portuguese, German, French, and English with his various endeavors and contacts..

When not working, you will have to be adventurous to stay up with him as Garrett loves motorcycling, gunnery, boating, sailing, flying, and sports fishing -- and accompanying his wife on her various likes

About The HRIS World Research Group

The HRIS World blog, which is read by more than 50,000 from more than 160 countries monthly, manages to have more than 550,000 pages viewed monthly. 40%+ of the audience are decision-makers in their organization (and about half of that being C-levels!).

As CEO for CGServices USA Inc, he focuses on multi-provider, multi-line implementations consultation for HRIS systems

Council and Education Member of Gerson Lehrman Group Council, helping institutions of the world leaders meet, engage and manage experts across a wide range of sectors and disciplines.

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