Millennials are the next generation of leaders and CEO’s in the workplace. As an integral part of the future landscape of our organisations, we must consider how best to harness the energy, passion and expectations of millennials, as they move into leadership positions and become the largest active generation in the working population.
In the final part of our 3-part millennial series, we interview one of our own, Bridget. To understand the mind of a millennial, we thought it was best that we ask a few questions about her role at Corporate Edge, her leadership position, her experience as a millennial leader and how she thinks her generation fits into a greater world view.
Bridget is a mid-twenties millennial leading the design team at Corporate Edge. A humble, enthusiastic and extremely supportive leader, Bridget embodies what it commonly looks like for a millennial in a leadership position in today’s workplace. Bridget has been working with Corporate Edge for the past three years and has two designers who in her words ‘work with her’ not under her.
As a millennial in a leadership position, how do you think that has impacted your formerly held views of leadership and leading a team?
I have been privileged in my working career thus far to have been surrounded and inspired by great leaders. When you are working on a team with exceptional leadership, not only does the work that is produced reach another level but the motivation that is inspired pushes the whole team forward with momentum. I have a greater appreciation for the responsibility of being in a leadership role. I feel a deep appreciation for the team I lead at Corporate Edge, as well as the responsibility to the organisation for the actions of the team I lead. Since being appointed into a leadership position, my previously held views of leadership haven’t changed too much. I view my role in the organisation to continue to inspire the team I lead and work cooperatively with the entire organisation to achieve our vision, to inspire the world to grow.
What is the biggest challenge of being a millennial leader?
The biggest challenge I have experienced personally this year is just to have confidence in myself. As I have mentioned I am incredibly fortunate to work with a team that is supportive and caring. Feeling confident in yourself comes from how you talk to yourself in moments of doubt. Learning to be comfortable in situations where I don’t have the answer, trusting in the team I have around me that we will work through problems together and not being so hard on myself when I make a mistake. All these things come with being comfortable in your own skin, knowing what your values are and taking each opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
Do you feel any type of imposter syndrome or overwhelm or feelings of not being ready, because you don’t have as much experience as someone older who’d typically be in this position?
For young people being appointed into a leadership position, it is very easy to feel overwhelmed and out of your depth as you find yourself faced with situations and decisions you have never experienced before. It is a constant learning experience, like so much of our lives. I am very fortunate to have found incredible mentorship and support at Corporate Edge that has helped me move through situations where I might feel stuck or not sure how to best proceed. It is critical to have this support when you are new into a role, as with anything new, it is a learning process. I personally feel I have grown immensely in myself as a person because of this support network which has allowed me to feel confident to take on this role with humility and courage. Leadership is not a title; it is a responsibility and for this reason I do not feel imposter syndrome in the role that I am in. Yes, I am young, and I may not have the experience of someone older than me, but leadership is more than your experience in life. It is how you inspire people to come and work alongside you, moving towards the vision of where you all collectively want to be.
How do you think millennials are going to change the workplace landscape?
The younger generations in today’s workplace bring with them a world view that has been shaped by the impact of climate change, mental health and wellbeing, globalisation, rapid changes in technological advancements and the rise of social media. Taking this into consideration, for millennials growing up in a world where software and computing is continually updating, we bring to the workplace this ability to adapt quickly to constant change and do it with ease. In my lifetime I grew up before the first mobile phone, lived through the transition of floppy disk to CD and fast forward to today where we stream all our entertainment online at the click of a button. The digital language that comes so intuitively to young people is a product of growing up through the age of such technological change. The ideas and problem solving that millennials bring to the workplace reflect these skills acquired from being able to access information across the globe at the click of a button.
In addition to this, living through a time where the spotlight has been placed on mental health has raised awareness for the need to talk about previously ‘taboo’ topics in our society. For millennials in the workplace, the importance of wellbeing and mental health is of high priority and integral to what is expected from organisational culture. This is a need that young people expect in the workplace, to have a psychologically safe place to speak freely and be cared for. Young people today are passionate about our global environmental responsibility. According to triple j’s What’s Up In Your World? 2019 survey, climate change topped the list as the single most important issue for young Australians, followed by mental health, housing opportunities and jobs. Bringing this view into the workplace, millennials are inspired to think of innovative ways to sustainably care for this planet. Whether that be the introduction of keep cups in the office or a recycling system in the communal kitchen. Millennials are going to change the workplace we know today because of the priorities and values they hold for themselves and the expectations they have of their working experience.
Do you think millennials (from a working point of view) were better equipped/more capable of adjusting to a new way of working when coronavirus interrupted our lives? And why?
Young people who were fortunate enough to hold their jobs throughout this year had a few advantages for coping amidst the circumstances COVID-19 brought about. Adapting to a purely digital way of working throughout lockdown periods was not entirely a heavy burden or difficult adjustment to make. With the intuitive digital skills millennials acquire, adapting to this change came quite naturally by upskilling quickly and embracing the transition. Interestingly, within the design team at Corporate Edge we had never felt more connected by working in this way and the structures of working remotely came with little frustrations or challenges. Video calls became a regular occurrence, and at sometimes we were known to have long phone calls on video even if we weren’t in a meeting or discussing anything just to feel like we were working alongside each other.
Thank you, Bridget, for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to answer our questions. This series has been an important and necessary conversation as we move into a more digital sphere, embrace technology and new ways of thinking in our everyday working lives.