(An excerpt from TJ’s book The Caring Warrior: Awaken your Power to Lead, Influence, and Inspire.)  Buy Your Copy Today

Oh Captain, My Captain!

Navigate your future Captains! Your boat is heading into unknown waters and adventures, and regardless of which generation you are part of, the crew sailing your vessel, will soon be nearly all from the millennial generation. If you want to boldly sail into the future reaching your many destinations, you will need to center your boat’s MAST – and your millennial crew.

(I refer to millennial’s as “they” or “them,” not out of disrespect, but because I am a Gen-Exer.)

How is the millennial generation like the mast of a boat?

  • The direction of the sail, the boom, pivots on the mast.
  • The mast holds the lookout position for dangers and new destinations.
  • When future waters get rough, the mast will be the core of the ship.

“Despite struggling with debt, recession, and the jobs crisis, millennial’s—who will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025—are not motivated by money. Rather, they aim to make the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable.

More than 50% of millennial’s say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, while 90% want to use their skills for good. The future of work lies in empowering millennial talent. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey found that 7,800 future leaders from 29 different countries say the business world is getting it wrong. Some 75% say they feel businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than improving society, while only 28% say they feel their current organization is making full use of their skills.”

Millennial’s want what we all want. They want effective leaders who care, who inspire, and who have a positive influence on their careers and lives. They want to be valued for their unique skills, ideas, and potential. They want to be accountable and to be coached, but they want you to treat them like human beings, not human capital. This generation is about honest and open communication. Effective leaders set the example when they involve their people in respectful conversation, encouraging creativity rather than suppressing it for some personal or political agenda.

If you give people you’re coaching and lead by giving them a voice, you will generate better ideas and better solutions. You will certainly get more buy-in. And even if a better solution doesn’t surface, you’re still giving them that respect and opportunity.

The Caring Warrior – Buy Your Copy Today


Meaning: Millennial’s have been exposed to unprecedented amounts of violence, technological advancement, and social upheaval. While they get tagged with a reputation for superficiality and narcissism, the truth is that they want to make a positive difference in the workplace and in the world. It is not enough to just give orders and point toward distant waters. This crew needs to understand why.

  • Consider your purpose, and explain it.
  • Include meaning and positive contribution in your messaging and communication.
  • Provide feedback that speaks to contribution and purpose in addition to coaching on skills and competencies.

Autonomy: Like Gen-Xer’s, millennial’s not only prefer space and autonomy, they demand it, dude! Seriously, with speedy access to information and solutions, you would be wise to not micromanage or hover. I’m not sure anyone responds well to someone breathing down his or her neck.

  • Be clear in your communication. Then, let them give it a try.
  • Help them process mistakes rather than stopping and correcting them. Coach, don’t instruct.
  • Trust them to do their work. If you’ve established clear goals and expectations and have provided resources and support, then watch, don’t meddle.

Stimulation: Millennial’s not only have the collective attention deficit that we all seem to have, but they also crave new challenges, ideas, and interesting approaches they are confident they can get it done—and they will—but please do not bore them. Keep things interesting.

  • Be creative in your project designs and methods.
  • Involve them in discussions about overcoming challenges and making things easier and more efficient.
  • Regularly talk about where they are heading in their learning and development. Make sure you connect what they are currently working on or doing with their future goals.

Truth: No BS. is group has seen and heard it all. They won’t salute if what you’re saying doesn’t sound legitimate and authentic. “Because I said so,” rarely works with children, let alone adults. Be candid and straightforward but respectful. Give them regular feedback in small doses—just don’t act like you’re the supervisor in a 1935 steel mill or Captain Bligh (mutiny was his fate). Talk with them like a human being.

  • Tell people what you can, when you can. Help them avoid political landmines. Help them navigate the complexities of the people side of the business, and they will pay you back with their commitment and contribution.
  • Keep people informed about where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going.

Captains, like any great leader-explorer, set out for distant lands, seek adventure and success, but remember your crew is the mast (and the wind) that will get you there.

The Caring Warrior – Buy Your Copy Today

TJ Jones is a an author, speaker, leadership crusader, and Caring Warrior. TJ’s Site

Adam Smiley Poswolsky, “What Millennial Employees Really Want,” Fast Company, June 4, 2015. http://www.fastcompany.com/3046989/ what-millennial-employees-really-want.