Are Millenials Really That Difficult to Lead?
Simon Sinek and I have had an understanding since I first read his book Start With Why a few years back. From starting with why, to discovering my why and being told why leaders eat last, I’ve agreed with and respected what Simon has taught me. But this time is different. This time he gave such a weird and opinionated answer, on a very difficult topic might I add, that I found it hard to believe he was telling it like it was fact.
So why are Millenials difficult to lead?
According to Sinek, millenials are difficult to lead because they feel entitled and are unsatisfied with their work places, and the reason why millenials are unhappy at their place of work can be broken down into four distinct reasons. Parenting, Technology, Impatience and Envirnoment.
Let’s take a look at each one of the reasons.
“The generation that is called the millennials, too many of them grew up subject to “failed parenting strategies.” Where they were told that they were special – all the time, they were told they can have anything they want in life, just because they want it.”
True, as a child I was told I could become anything I wanted to be, but no, I was not told I could do that just because I wanted do. The correct phrase here would be “achieve” anything in life, not have. Sinek overly simplifies the problem that millenials are not happy at work to them being disgruntled due to not everything happening the way they wanted. Now this is just my opinion, but not getting what I want every time I want it is a part of life. Being told you can achieve anything if you put your everything into it, that’s what made me tick. I saw enormous opportunities around me, and still to this date I sometimes find myself thinking maybe one day I’ll be approached at a Starbucks for a role in the latest Chris Pratt movie. I’m not saying parents should give their children everything they ask for, I’m saying parents should support their children in what they dream of.
“That’s why when you get a text – it feels good. In a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money and sex.“
Alright, I kind of want to agree with Simon here. 24/7 access to a mobile device is definitely bad for you. I’ve tried shutting down my phone for a couple of hours every day, and it definitely helped me feel refreshed. However, it’s not like there are only downsides to social media and technology, Sinek just goes cherry picking instead of giving a balanced account of the truth from both sides.
They will admit that many of their relationships are superficial, they will admit that they don’t count on their friends, they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends, but they also know that their friends will cancel on them when something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skillset and worse, they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief.
This is where I draw the line. Yes, I have hundreds of Facebook friends I have no true friendship with, but I have a group of friends, including my best friend, who I trust with pretty much everything in my life. Close friends and meaningful friendships didn’t die with social media, and at least in my case it just made keeping in touch with old friends and friends living overseas easier.
They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something, you go on Amazon and it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie, logon and watch a movie. You don’t check movie times. You want to watch a TV show, binge. You don’t even have to wait week-to-week-to-week.
Everything you want you can have instantaneously. Everything you want, instant gratification, except, job satisfaction and strength of relationships – their ain’t no out for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes.
This is actually a very useful point to argue, because personally I do notice this tendency to want everything instantly in myself. It’s indeed something we wrestle with as a generation. But, this is still making a too general of an assumption. Instant gratification doesn’t necessarily lead to negative personality traits that hinder your ability to build friendships and succeed at work. It’s not an automatic process that makes you impatient. By understanding the way things work and why certain tasks or aspects of life take time even millenials can survive without instant gratification. Leading millenials might be different due to their potential desire for instant gratification, but it makes it in no way an argument to claim millenials feel entitled.
They were dealt a bad hand and it’s the company’s responsibility to pick up the slack and work extra hard and find ways to build their confidence, to teach them the social skills that their missing out on. There should be no cellphones in conference rooms. None, zero.
First blaming the parents then saying the companies need to find ways to build our confidence? But don’t we feel entitled to have everything, why would we need more confidence? This is where Sinek starts contradicting himself slightly, and while he does make a good point about companies being responsible for their employees and that they need to understand different generations, races, and sexes, it does not make it their responsibility to teach us social skills. Although I do appreciate the no cellphones in conference rooms policy.
In this interview Sinek went too far in generalizing and stereotyping an entire generation of people without actually looking at the coin from both sides. He makes great points about mobile phones and instant gratification, but drops the ball by blaming parents for telling us we can achieve everything and creating confidence in us. All of these problems may exist, but this is way too one-sided of an opinion to look at.