Millennials Who Manage: A book review by Bob Morris

MillennialsMillennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader
Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart
Pearson FT Press (October 2015)

What Millennials must be as well as do to develop high-impact leadership and management skills

As Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart explain, “The challenges of leading in today’s world have caused, if not demanded, a shift in how we approach leader development. The primary focus of the leader is now on the self because it is the nature and presence of the leader that most impacts an organization. Technical skills serve as the price of admission in leadership, but leading effectively depends on how well you negotiate the emotional and relational processes of what many refer to as both science and art.”

I agree with them as does Frances Hesselbein who suggests that CEOs in this century will face challenges “that have everything to do with monitoring the quality of leadership [at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise], the work force, and relationships.” Espinoza and Schwarzbart wrote this book primarily for Millennials (those born within the 1980-2000 timeframe) who have been or will soon be entrusted with management responsibilities. (Be sure to check out Espinoza and Schwarzbart’s discussion of “Generational Differences: Fact or Fiction” in Chapter 6.) I was fascinated to read FORTUNE magazine’s latest “40 Under 40” list (October 1, 2015 issue). These 40 now serve as role models for countless young men and women who are preparing for or have only recently embarked on a career in business and aspire to achieve comparable (if not greater) success.

I also think this book will be of substantial value to those who supervise Millennials. When Espinoza and Schwarzbart surveyed older workers and asked them “What is the downside of being managed by a Millennial?”, the second most frequent response was “dealing with their immaturity.” Of course, however defined, “immaturity” is in the eyes of those who allege it. My own experience is that many of those perceived as being immature tend to view many of their elders as “over the hill.” I agree with Espinoza and Schwarzbart: “Overcoming negative perceptions has more to do with you learning about you than with others changing their opinion of you.” I presume to add that, with rare exception, those who are most effective in managing perceptions (theirs and others’) are also most effective in other dimensions of management.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Espinoza and Schwartzbart’s coverage:

o Learning as a Way of Being, and, Managerial Leadership (Pages 4-6)
o Stereotypes and Generalizations (6-8)
o What Do You See as Positive About Being Managed by Someone Under 35, and, as Downside? (13-15)
o The Concept of Dignity as a Mind-Set (21-24)
o The Desire to Please Your Boss (28-30)
o Organizations by Nature Exert a Powerful Force Against Self-Differentiation (34-35)
o What Does It Mean to Be Authentic? (38-39)
o The Challenges of Being Authentic When Transitioning into a New Role (43-45)
o The Maturational Perspective (47-48)
o The Life Course Perspective (48-51)
o Defining the Generations (52-59)
o Identifying Biases in the Conference Board Results (71-72)
o Something Else Going on Besides Just Overconfidence (73-75)
o Millennial Manager Survey (80-87)
o Managerial Leader Competencies Needed for Managing Millennials (95-98)
o The Biggest Challenges Millennials Report Facing in the Workplace (98-101)
o Challenges Created by Perception (101-104)
o Managing Millennial Teams (106-108)

I agree with Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart: “Whether you are leading people who are older than you, younger than you, or peers, it is important to understand that people are emotional beings. In all of our research, whether in talking to young or older employees, the theme of respect surfaced — the need for respect and the need to be respected. We would like to extend the conversation beyond respect to the concept of dignity.” For me, the key point is that, whether Millennials are managers or being managed, leaders or followers, they have fundamental human needs and dignity is among the most important to them but they must others’ respect and trust. In Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz observes, ” A leader earns influence by adjusting to the expectations of others.” Many of the Millennials I have observed don’t even know what those expectations are.

Millennials who manage others and aspire to become a great leader must first manage themselves by developing self-regulation so they can act in their own long-term best interest, consistent with their deepest values. As quoted earlier, “Overcoming negative perceptions has more to do with you learning about you than with others changing their opinion of you.” In essence then, self-awareness leads to self-regulation that, in turn, nourishes personal growth and professional development. For them as well as for those to whom they report, this is a “must read.”

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.