The Time is Right: Millennial Achievers to Need Step Up and Lead

I’ve been writing and speaking about Millennials since they first made their way into the workplace as teenagers in 1998.

Since then, I’ve interacted with thousands of mature business owners and leaders who’ve confessed their struggles and frustrations in managing this enigmatic generation.

Today, more than half of all Millennials (born 1980-2000) are 25 and older, and the part-time teen workers of 1998 are now 35 years-old. They hate being lumped into a generational heap that’s been branded and widely criticized for being inherently lazy and entitled.

This is especially true for those overachieving Millennials, who are anything but lazy and entitled.

Millennial leaders are just teeing off

But what makes overachieving Millennials even angrier is when they have to manage other Millennials who personify the negative stereotypes their generation has been given.

Now, one out of three of my readers and audience members is a Millennial who owns a company or manages a business, and after interacting with thousands of them, I’m convinced that they hate the entitlement-minded lazy slackers more than we Baby Boomers ever did.

And our problem is now becoming their problem. Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day and there are not enough Gen X’ers (born 1964-1979) to cover the leadership gap.

That means Millennial achievers are now tasked with managing non-achieving Millennials.

A golfer might put it this way: Baby Boomer business leaders are on the back nine and heading to the clubhouse. Millennial leaders are just teeing off.

Inspiring your peers to achieve

There is good news for Millennial achievers (i.e. those young adults who are out in the world working hard, making their own way, living independently without help from the government or their parents, saving and making sound financial decisions, paying their taxes, voting in elections, and living principle-centered lives.)

The future is brighter for you than it has ever been for any of us who’ve gone before you. That’s because you are in great demand, and in very short supply.

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Every organization wants you, needs you, and is out there scouring the earth in search of you. Take pride in that and keep up the good work.

The bad news is that being an achiever is not enough to get you where you ultimately want to go. If you want to make it to the next level (and achievers always want to reach the next level), you’ve got to be able to transform your non-achieving peers into achievers, and you must be able to lead them and develop them into leaders.

As management guru Tom Peters says, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

Time for young leaders to step up

And as if that’s not enough of a daunting task, you’re now being charged with managing underachieving old fogies who are on the back nine and likely have their head in the clubhouse. And they don’t take kindly to being told what to do by young overachieving whippersnappers.

That’s a very tall order.

ON POINT – The call for young leaders has never been louder. It’s a daunting challenge, but the rewards are significant for those who survive and succeed.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s blog Chester on Point

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement, and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the millennial mindset, and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 4 leadership books including his newly released Amazon #1 Bestseller On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out.  Learn more at and follow him at @eric_chester


5 Comments on “The Time is Right: Millennial Achievers to Need Step Up and Lead

    1. When they die, yes. But until then they are happy to run everything at peak RPM until the engine blows because they won’t have to deal with the repair bill.

  1. There are plenty of Gen-Xers to take the positions of leadership. But Baby Boomers like yourself have largely ignored them, in part because a lot of them are not your children. A lot of your children are Millennials. The other issue is so many of you didn’t want to give up leadership, even in the face of retirement. So cut the selfish act and just say what you mean: You want your children to do well at the expense of someone else’s. The rest of you want to hang on thinking you’ll be able to do the job forever. Otherwise, all this worry would have happened a decade or more ago, when Gen-Xers were the same age as the Millennials and the first wave of Baby Boomers were at retirement age. Seriously, this is so obvious — and self-serving.

  2. Now if only these companies looking for millenial leaders were willing to spend time and money training people instead of expecting everyone to know how to do a job they’ve never done before by sheer force of will.

  3. These articles are so ridiculous, people’s personalities may depend on what year they are born in, but not on classification into some “generation,” it’s more of a sliding scale…Also, “generation” depends on when your parents and siblings were born, as well as how old the other kids you grew up around were.

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