Leadership is one of my favorite topics, as well as one that I constantly apply and refine in my roles as a nonprofit leader and teaching and leadership organization in the Dallas area at the University of Houston. The concept of leadership evolves over time, generation after generation, as an engine of innovation in management.
From a generational perspective, millennials like me are trying to make our own mark on leadership. If I were to distill the biggest change I see among my fellow millennials, it is the notion that leadership has less to do with power and more to do with empowerment. This evolution in leadership thinking is a rejection of micromanagement and closed power silos in organizations and, above all, avoids the “I get paid a lot, so I make all the decisions” mentality.
This new era of leadership is less about managers and more about those we previously thought of as “the managed.” In practice, however, the dynamics change throughout the organization because the only center is that of empowerment and facilitation. In my own experience, I found that I, along with virtually every leader I have ever met, have more limitations than strengths. Therefore, my organizations will only be as good as the people I hire and the amount of power I give them.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not as easy as simply stating a leadership principle. In reality, thriving in this new era of millennial leadership means finding equally passionate and talented people. My goal every day is to position the talents of the brightest people I can find, have them tell me what they need to achieve our organizational goals, equip them accordingly, and then get out of the way. Each of us has been micromanaged before, so the last part is perhaps the hardest for leaders at times. To live this value, I sometimes have to go days or weeks without talking to some of my people to give them room to breathe, be creative, and find solutions that can lead to success.