The Next Great Generation

Leave it to a Millennial to dig up some research on her own generation and send it to me. Well, that’s my daughter – what can I say?

Part 1 of a 4-part series on Generations in ChurchWorld

Last week this post introduced the generational lens that I view a lot of things through. Today I want to look at the first of four generations active in ChurchWorld leadership roles today, and the implications for you as a leader with your own team. The other three generations will be examined the rest of this week.

Just in case you wondered, there is a fifth generation that’s almost in a position of leadership – those born from the late ‘90s on. The oldest of that generation is already leading your youth or student groups, even without a position of leadership – but that is another series for another day! Now about those Millennials…

The Next Great Generation

Meet the Millennials, born in or after 1982 through the late ‘90s  – the “Babies on Board” of the early Reagan years, the “Have You Hugged Your Child Today?” sixth graders of the early Clinton years, the teens of Columbine, the much-touted Class of 2000 entering the new Millennium, and this year, poised to enter their thirties.

As a group, Millennials are unlike any other youth generation in living memory. They are more numerous, more affluent, better educated, and more ethnically diverse. More importantly, they are beginning to manifest a wide array of positive social habits that older Americans no longer associate with youth, including a new focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and good conduct.

When you fit these changes into the broader rhythms of American history, you can get a good idea of what kind of adult generation the Millennials have demonstrated so far, and are likely becoming. You can foresee their future hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, as they rise to adulthood and, in time, to power. You can understand how today’s young adults are on the way to becoming a powerhouse generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders. Many observers think this generation will dominate the twenty-first century like today’s fading and ennobled G.I. Generation dominated the twentieth. Millennials have a solid chance to becomeAmerica’s next great generation, celebrated for their collective deeds a hundred years from now.

– from “Millennials Rising” by Neil Howe and William Strauss

And they are the “young gun” leaders chomping at the bit in ChurchWorld today.

Millennials want to make a difference from the day they arrive on the scene, and think they can. After all, they had parents who told them how great they were. They listened to Baby Einstein to get smarter. They expected to get an A in school, and if they didn’t, they negotiated with the school staff.

Millennials bring a lot of valuable skill sets in terms of thinking outside the box and in the world of technology. They are the first generation that are digital natives. They don’t know what status quo means, but they will be the first to speak up is something doesn’t work.

Some thoughts to consider when leading Millennials:

  • Provide specific examples of what you expect at the office
  • Give them feedback at least once a month
  • Capable of learning several tasks simultaneously and performing them admirably
  • Flexible scheduling is important in developing a balanced life
  • “Fun” is not an F-word; it’s a vital aspect of a meaningful, productive workplace
  • Leadership is a participative process; they will learn best from leaders who engage them
  • Continuous learning is a way of life
  • Diversity is expected
  • Being hyper-connected is normal

By 2015 (less than four years away!) Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to the Millennials. When you consider the changes in the amount of knowledge available at our fingertips, the advent of social technologies, and the expansion of the global economy over the past decade, it’s no wonder that generational collisions are inevitable – even in ChurchWorld.

Are you ready?

Generational Disclosure: I am the parent of three Millennials: a 27 year-old son completing Air Force Basic Training, married with a daughter who is nine months old; a 23 year-old daughter who is employed as a communication director and is completing a Masters in Divinity; and an 18 year-old son who is beginning college this fall as a culinary arts/food services management major. My generational studies start at home!


2 thoughts on “The Next Great Generation

  1. Hahaha…thanks for the shout-out Dad! 😛

    I sent that article because I knew you were interested in the generational stuff. I’ve actually read several more articles like it since the one I sent you (and yes, they were on millennials)! I find it fascinating!

  2. Pingback: Tradition « 27gen

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