What do Millennials and Non-Millennials Value Most in Leadership at Work?

December 31, 201511:00 am902 views

In contrast to widespread belief that millennials and older generations are fundamentally divided in their view of work, the nationwide study of more than 1,000 working employees and managers found that employees’ expectations of leadership are timeless and defy intergenerational dynamics.

According to a recent study conducted by The Bridge team at Instructure, a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) company assessing what millennials and non-millennials value most in leadership at work found that views of management are largely congruent across generations, with a few key exceptions.

According to the results, both millennials and non-millennials have higher opinions of the leaders with whom they work most closely, indicating that face-time matters across generations.

Thirty-two percent of both millennials and non-millennials think their direct supervisor performs very well, as opposed to 23 percent for senior management and 18 percent for C-suite executives.

Millennials Views about Leadership at Work

Additional findings of the survey include:

  • Millennials and non-millennials alike value trustworthiness the most in a manager, with 59 percent of millennials and 73 percent of non-millennials dubbing it the most important quality.
  • Millennials and non-millennials agree that managers are more effective in displaying industry knowledge and experience (42 percent say they are very effective) than they are at mentoring (25 percent say they are very effective) and utilizing all of employees’ talents and abilities at work (23 percent say they are very effective).

See: Companies find developing Millennials as leaders challenging: Survey

  • Millennials think leadership is less concerned about them. They also are less optimistic about the benefits of work. Only 23 percent of millennials strongly agree that management is concerned about them compared to 40 percent of non-millennials, and only 32 percent of millennials strongly agree that work is good for their mental health compared to 40 percent of non-millennials.
  • Millennials and non-millennials share a cohesive vision about how leadership will change by 2020. Employees feel managers will – delegate more assignments (most likely), empower their teams more, master more technical skills, develop better teaching capabilities and develop better gender sensitivity (least likely).

According to the study, millennials think leadership is less concerned about them as individuals and have more pessimistic views about work’s impact on their lives. In general, millennials are also less satisfied with their managers than their older colleagues.

Similarly, millennials are less optimistic about the benefits of work on their mental health. Only 32% strongly agree it is good for them, while 40% of non-millennials feel work is good for their mental health.

According to the study, five years from now, managers will need to do more to empower their teams, delegate assignments, and develop better teaching capabilities and master more technical skills.

A lot has been discussed about the dynamics between millennials and non-millennials in the workplace, however, this study shows that their expectations for leadership are largely similar to preceding generations.

While they do care more about having leaders with mentorship capabilities and emotional intelligence than their non-millennial peers, they still agree that trustworthiness, skills, and real-world experience are the most important.

The survey polled more than 1,000 employees across the United States to determine their attitudes about leadership, gender and training at work. The survey was conducted in October 2015 and had respondents in several industries, with an equal split of male and female respondents.

Also read: Another 21 Years to Achieve Gender Parity in the Workplace? Millennials Think

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