“Younger Leaders More Fun to Work With.” It sounds like a headline from The Onion, but it’s the result of a study recently published in the Harvard Business Review. According to the study, leaders younger than 30 years old were two to three times as likely to be both “results-driven” and “fun to work with” as their older counterparts.
Why Are Younger Leaders More Fun?
Why would younger leaders be more fun to work with? The reason could come from the expectations millennials have of their coworkers and workplace. Consider the following statistics from a study by MTV.
88 percent of Millennials want their coworkers to be their friends.
71 percent want their coworkers to be like a second family.
Nearly 9 in 10 Millennials want the workplace to be social and fun.
A millennial supervisor might bring these expectations with them as they assume a leadership position.
One other interesting statistic that came from the HBR study is that top management performed much less well on people skills than lower level management. Age and position are strongly correlated with one another, so it may help to explain why leaders older than 30 are considered less fun; they have more to worry about.
Six Skills of Effective and Fun Leaders
At any rate, it’s a good idea for all leaders to learn how to be more fun since people skills is noted as such an important trait in the workplace. In the HBR study, six skills were discovered that allowed leaders to play to both results and fun. A successful leader:
- Communicates clear strategy and direction
- Inspires and motivates
- Establishes stretch goals
- Has high integrity and inspires trust
- Develops others
- Is coachable
Great Leadership at Any Age
According to Steve Picarde, Jr., President of PI Midlantic, an expert who consults with business leaders and their teams on communication and talent development, here is how leaders can work on gaining these six skills and become seen as “more fun.”
1- Communicate with employees based on their needs
Some leaders think that employees need to learn their communication strategy since they are, after all, the boss. However, in order to truly get across to employees it’s important to find out how to talk to them based on their needs. Finding out if they prefer communication that is formal, to what degree they want to be told what to do, how direct you should be with them, and more, can dramatically change the effectiveness of your message.
2- Keep an eye on employee morale
There are tools available like The Predictive Index® that can measure morale in employees. Don’t hesitate to regularly give your employees written assessments that will ask the right questions. When you notice someone is losing morale, you’ll be able to act quickly to motivate them.
3- Implement a talent development plan
A talent development plan starts with a good hiring process (Pre-boarding) and progresses through on-boarding, and throughout the employee’s time at the company (post-boarding). The post boarding phase can consist of custom learning programs, talent initiatives, mentoring, and more. Partnering with a talent analytics company will help drive this plan.
The HBR study identified a gap between truly great leaders and those millennials are less enthused about working for. But as long as you continue to work on improving yourself and your organization, you’ll always find the best path forward.
This guest post is courtesy of Stephanie McGuinn, CEO of PIMidatlantic.