by David Keszei
American Millennials, born between 1982 and 2000, are the youngest and most populous generation in America entering the workforce today, numbering approximately 76 million. (Howe and Strauss, 2000) The Millennial generation, also known as Generation “Y,” has a wealth of technology acumen, is group oriented and possesses a positive attitude. (Steinwart 2009, Tapscott, 1998)
The oldest cohort in the USA by age is the Baby Boomer generation; defined by being born between 1946 and 1964, with a population of 80 million. This generation, as the oldest, has about 10,000 reaching the age of 55 each day. The Generation “X” group is defined by being born between 1965 and 1984, with a smaller population than the other two cohorts at an estimated 46 million. (Fore, 2012)
The rapid retirement of the Baby Boomer generation coupled with the sheer size of the Millennials cohort has forced them into leadership positions faster than both the Generation X and Baby Boomer groups, creating rapid advancement within the Millennials ranks, but with potential consequences tied to the communication and leadership differences present within these different generations. (Fore, 2012)
Today’s S&P companies’ international revenue represents 52% of their yearly revenue stream. (Goldstein, 2015) This globalization has forced and incentivized companies to develop cross-cultural teams to penetrate emerging markets and expand in existing markets, as well as increased the interdependence, economic, social, technical and political, between nations. Also, globalization has required multinational organizations, to identify and select appropriate leaders for these entities, and to manage groups with culturally diverse employees (Northouse, 2016) Millennials will hold leadership positions within these multi-national companies and will be leading employees with diverse cultural backgrounds. These young leaders will need to project specific managerial behaviors to be successful in this diverse cultural team environment.
Millennial Employee/Leadership Traits
Millennials, as employees, expect to receive sensitivity to their work-life balance, space to do their job, have a say in their work and their business, be rewarded for successes and be given frequent constructive feedback. (Espinoza, 2010) As followers, Millennials do not thrive under an authority leadership style and as leaders, they lead with tolerance for others, are valuecentered,rule oriented and culturally sensitive. (Fore 2012)
Millennial managers expect to give fresh perspective and ideas, utilize technology, provide honest opinions and feedback, and receive high productivity and energy from their employees. They are highly inclusive and do not like to discriminate against others. They have close relationships with their parents and expect that their professional relationships with staff will also be close. Because of their constant utilization of technology and social media, Millenials managers expect to combine personal and professional lives, while posting it for the entire company and public to view. (Espinoza, 2010) Their utilization of Web 2.0 such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram from an early age, throughout their formative years and into adulthood has developed unique communication habits and expectations. For example Millennials, through the constant utilization of email and texting have developed a sense of instantaneous feedback from an individual they communicate with electronically. (Fore, 2012) In addition to the technological differences that Millennials experienced growing up, they also reflect socialization influenced by parental nurturing and praise that is far greater than any previous generation. They value the relationships they have built with parents and other family members and lack self-awareness on the higher power sharing distances present in more vertical organizations. Millennials enjoy and desire to work in teams, are goal oriented and want immediate feedback for their performance. (Fore 2012)
Technology and Millennials
Technology has seen tremendous advancements over the past 50 years. The public release of Netscape, 8/9/1995, which was the first Internet browser that enabled the general public to utilize the Internet for personal use serves as the starting point. Up until this point, the Internet was predominantly used by science and academia. (Friedman, 2005). Facebook was released to the public on February 4, 2004. (Phillips S., 2007) Twitter was released to the public in July 2006. (Carlson N., 2011), Instagram in October 2010 (Deseromaux, G., 2014) and Snapchat in September 2011. (Crook, Escher, 2015)
All of these social media platforms were part of the Web 2.0. Each of the release timelines sits directly within most of the current Millennial generation worker’s young lives and were a fully functioning social media platform as they developed into adults. Web 2.0 has been a definitive factor in the communication skill development of the Millennial generation. (O, Reilly, 2005)
It has enabled users to interact and generate user-generated content, such as blogging, wiki’s, forums, etc. Good examples of this type of technology utilization are Facebook and Twitter. The term Web 2.0 originated from the O’Reily Media Web 2.0 Conference in late 2004. Although Web 2.0 suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specification, but rather to cumulative changes in the way Web pages are made and used. (O, Reilly, 2005) This ubiquitous use of Social Media as a way to communicate and solve problems has shaped Millennials into a fast paced, immediate reaction and transparent manager, who feels technology can be a tool for a leader to utilize in almost any situation. While technology plays an important part within a Millennial managers leadership portfolio, other cultures may not be as open or accepting of their transparency with regard to professional and personal lives, as well as their inner-team and managerial communication styles.
Leadership Behavior and Culture
The GLOBE research program, which stands for Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness, was initiated by Robert House in 1991, involving more than 160 investigators and measuring the responses of 17,000 managers in more than 950 organizations, representing 62 different cultures through the world. (Northouse, 2016) GLOBE researchers identified six Global Leadership behaviors and then measured those behaviors from most desired to least desired in ten different geographical locations throughout the world. The ten different geographic segments are Eastern European, Latin American, Latin Europe, Confusian Asian, Nordic Europe, Anglo, Sub-Saharan, Southern Asia, Germanic Europe and Middle-East. (House, 2004, Northouse, 2016) These leadership traits combine to produce the most desired leader, given the culture represented. Each of the ten different geographic sectors require a different combination of leadership traits to be most effective.
Six Global Leadership Behaviors – GLOBE Study. (House, 2004, Northouse, 2016)
- Charismatic/value-based leadership reflects the ability to inspire, to motivate, and to expect high performance from others based on strongly held core values.
- Team-oriented leadership emphasizes team building and a common purpose among team members.
- Participative leadership reflects the degree to which leaders involve others in making and implementing decisions.
- Humane-oriented leadership emphasizes being supportive, considerate, compassionate, and generous.
- Autonomous leadership refers to independent and individualistic leadership, which includes being autonomous and unique.
- Self-protective leadership reflects behaviors that ensure the safety and security of the leader and the group.
GLOBE Leadership Traits, Desired by Geographic Region (Leadership Traits in order of most important too least important)
Humane, Charismatic, Team Oriented, Participative, Self- Protective, Autonomous
Charismatic, Participative, Humane, Team Oriented, Autonomous, Self-Protective
- Latin Europe:
Charismatic, Team Oriented, Participative, Self- Protective, Humane, Autonomous
- Nordic Europe:
Charismatic, Participative, Team Oriented, Autonomous, Humane, Self-Protective
- Latin America:
Charismatic, Team Oriented, Self-Protective, Participative, Humane, Autonomous Confusian
Self- Protective, Team Oriented, Humane, Charismatic, Autonomous, Participative Germanic Europe: Autonomous, Charismatic, Participative, Humane, Team Oriented, Self-Protective
- Southern Asia:
Self-Protective, Charismatic, Humane, Team Oriented, Autonomous, Participative
Self- Protective, Humane, Autonomous, Charismatic, Team Oriented, Participative
- Eastern European:
Autonomous, Self-Protective, Charismatic, Team Oriented, Humane, Participative
House, R. J. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
American Millennials have been raised in a collaborative, open sharing environment where the line is blurred between those in charge and those who are following. This “horizontal” outlook of the world has entered into their workplace communication as young leaders, with varying degrees of success and failure. (Steinwart, 2009) As leaders, they have brought their inclusiveness and collaborative style of communication across multiple platforms of technology to the workplace and enabled a holistic form of the traditional team environment.
American Millennials, have had significant successes in business startups and technology innovation. Companies such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram were started and are run by, Millennials in senior leadership positions. The technology industry, which is currently dominated by Millennials, has had a tremendous effect on society around the globe and has fundamentally changed the way people view the world and their respective work roles. Millennials style of communication translates well into companies that hire and promote services and products primarily to Millennials, but it is still difficult to accurately predict whether this open sharing communication style will lead to their long-term success or failure as leaders.
In comparison, Global leaders display traits and behaviors that are based on the cultural differences of geographic locations. Each respective region rewards a different combination of leadership traits and consequently leaders must demonstrate a different combination of the six leadership traits to be most effective, depending on their team’s cultural background.
For purposes of this paper, the researcher has interpreted American Millennial leadership traits, detailed earlier, to match those characteristics of the GLOBE study, using some interpolation. By combining the American Millennial leadership traits with the GLOBE traits, it enables a comparison to be made between the two using common criteria.
American Millennial’s leadership behaviors are most associated with the following Global Leadership Traits, as defined by the GLOBE study: Humane-Oriented, Participative, and Team Oriented. Using a nominal scale to assign numerical values to the six different Global 7 Leadership Traits, (1=Autonomous, 2=Self Protective, 3=Charismatic, 4=Team Oriented, 5=Humane, 6=Participative) and then comparing this to the GLOBE study which measured the desirability of each trait; and then ranked in order of importance all six Global Leadership Traits, for each of the ten different geographic locations.
Based on scoring American Millenials would appear to be best suited to lead teams within the following geographic regions (from most suited to least suited).
1. Sub Saharan
3. Latin Europe
4. Nordic Europe
5. Latin America
6. Confusian Asia
8. Southern Asia
10. Eastern Europe
This ranking reflects the desirability of the following behaviors, Humane, Participative and Team-Oriented, as being most desired traits for a leader within the respective region. These leadership traits are most closely aligned with American Millennials behaviors and could help organizations understand and utilize the strengths Millennials possess, when building international teams.
While this research is not a definitive assessment of American Millennials leadership capabilities throughout different regions of the world, it does show that certain Millennial leadership traits might be more effective in certain geographical areas based on cultural similarities and desired leadership traits within that respective culture.
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