Last September, the World Economic Forum published an article discussing what Millennials really want from businesses. What stood out immediately from the article appeared in the first sentence. “The global business community is being challenged by Millennials who want to change the world — and the results are going to be incredible.”
The article went on to discuss how Millennials want to create change and value takes priority. Financial performance should not be the only measure of success. They are focused on and want to see social change. The organizations that live by their values and bring them to life are the companies that will get Millennial attention, the benefits of their purchasing power, and their employment. As a result, businesses are actively working on becoming more socially conscious by placing organizational purpose over corporate mission and profits.
Although I’ve shared some of the ways leaders are disappointing Millennials in previous posts, here’s the good news … you’re getting a few things right in your communication and it’s appreciated. It’s not all bad for business leaders and brands that want to reach Millennials through their marketing channels or want to recruit and retain them in their companies.
From my research, there are several ways that leaders score positive points and can make a difference. Here’s what Millennials said when I asked, “Please fill in the blank. I LIKE a leader who …”
- Speaks up more and shows a lot of corporate activism. Brands are more than their products and services today.
- Interacts frequently with followers. The screen doesn’t exist and you can have a conversation.
- Convey thoughts properly and effectively.
- Takes the time to communicate through videos.
- Shares direct and straightforward messages.
- Communicates in earnest and follows up with action.
- Leads with integrity and leads by example.
- Inspires an audience and listens carefully to their thoughts and concerns and fuel the passion further.
- Is vulnerable and authentic.
- Shares some personal experience and knowledge; a leader who is compassionate and interested.
- Basically enjoys helping others to become leaders.
By way of background, I started my research journey to really understand how Millennials show up to their conversations and how they want to be perceived. What surfaced quickly in my one-on-one interviews was what they expected from the leaders in their lives (bosses or managers at their companies, business professionals representing the brands they love and even their religious and political figures too) whether they’ve expressed this publicly or not.
After experiencing personal family trauma, I wanted to also learn why communication doesn’t always show how people feel when they share on social media or during their in-person interactions. That’s why it’s so important to show up to your conversations with a FEEL First approach.
Because, when you FEEL before you communicate, you:
Face Your Fears by you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to be more open to the ideas, feedback, and information that challenges the way that you are programmed to think.
Engage with Empathy by actively listening and you’re able to put your own agenda aside. Taking the time to understand the details of someone’s situation is the first step toward compassion and walking in someone else’s shoes.
Use Ethics and your good judgment by exercising your values and beliefs with every interaction and being true to yourself through your communication.
Unleash the Love of your work, ideas, cause, etc. (you fill in the blank) with contagious passion and the kind of energy that makes people want to not only be around you but also to support your cause and collaborate with you.
If you’re a leader and you FEEL you’re not connecting and advancing your relationships or exciting the people around you (not just Millennials but anyone), then here’s are a few ways to address the “F” in the FEEL model that might help. Embracing open conversations, differing opinions and being open to change means stepping out of your comfort. When you’re more aware of how you show up to your conversations, and when you have an open and inviting approach, different actions will result, from the people around you.