1. Look for a mentor
Mentorship has been and continues to be very significant in leadership development. For millennials, who are highly relational, it allows for one-to-one advice delivered contextually. Consistent, long-term mentoring enables leaders to observe integrity in their mentors, gain trust, and in turn show vulnerability, experiment and grow. It also allows a safe place to wrestle with the significant issues being faced day to day in leadership.
Action: Make it a high priority to seek out a mentor who can walk through leadership with you, meeting regularly to discuss the challenges you're facing in a focused way.
2. Develop healthy conflict management skills
In speaking with millennial leaders we found that conflict management was the most cited difficulty. Some 69 per cent of those surveyed had received no conflict management training at all. With increasingly blurred boundaries between work and life, conflict in the workplace tends to negatively affect the health of millennials outside office hours.
Paired with a strong desire to be liked, leaders are struggling with being fearful of conflict and avoiding it as much as possible. To be a better leader healthy conflict management should be learned and embraced.
Action: It is vital for leaders to understand, reflect and learn to tackle the issues that lead to conflict. Regularly put into practice the concepts of grace, forgiveness and healthy conflict management.
3. Put yourself in environments of high challenge and high support
One millennial surveyed as part of our research said: "You need a good team around. You need a team to support you. Equally you need a team that’s going to appropriately challenge you. You need people above you as well, who are supporting what you’re doing and equally have that ability to challenge what you’re doing. That sort of high challenge, but high support."
The balance achieved in authentic communities which allow for support and challenge simultaneously give leaders freedom and empower them to grow.
Action: When you are looking for a job, seek out environments that offer high challenge, but also offer high support. Put a large emphasis on identifying workplaces that will enable you to take risks and fail, and those that will provide supportive leaders who will journey with you, support you, and help you to recharge when leadership is tough.
4. Take leadership opportunities whenever they're offered, even if you don’t feel equipped
Some 85 per cent of Christian millennials surveyed said "learning on the job" was one of the top three things that had influenced their leadership style. Real leadership responsibility is a catapult to being better at leading, taking risks, growing and experimenting.
Finding the courage to take these opportunities when they come and to embrace them fully will be very significant in the life of any leader, helping them to reach their full potential.
Action: Take any chances to learn on the job because they will serve as catalysts to leadership development.
5. Be aware of the tensions surrounding identity, and take time to self-reflect
Christian millennials in leadership told us that they based much of their identity on being children of God. However, just over half acknowledged that they struggled with a "need for approval" and wanting to be liked. This demonstrates an underlying tension in leaders who can put too much value on what others think of them instead of finding their identity in Christ.
Another dominant theme was fear of failure, with low self-confidence and low self-esteem being significant issues among those we interviewed.
Becoming more self-aware in these areas and more secure in their own identity, can be one of the biggest gifts a leader can give to the people they are leading.
Action: Take time to reflect on your own identity as a leader, and how you can settle the underlying tensions within your own life, in order to lead in the most effective way, from a healthy sense of identity.
Rachel Luetchford is a research assistant at Forge Leadership Consultancy.