A Manifesto for Millennial Leaders

Dear millennial leaders,

There's a lot out there that's said about us. Words like "overzealous" and "idealistic" are typical in millennial descriptions. There are other less flattering words used as well: slothful, self-centered, impulsive, entitled, spoiled, impatient, arrogant, and narcissistic.

I don't like those words very much. And I'd like us to change that.

Derek Harvey_A Manifesto for Millennial Leaders_leadership

The Millennial generation is the largest in US history. I am proud to be a millennial, but I'm getting sick and tired of hearing all the negative press about millennials. I've heard pastors in pulpits and people I respect make condemning comments and lump all millennials in to one large narcissistic pot.

Now, we can't always control how we're perceived, but we can always control how we act.  

As leaders, it is our responsibility, whether we like it or not, to help create positive change. Actions speak so much louder than words. But when we're digitally screaming at the top of our lungs behind an IP address and not actually moving toward the messes with hopeful expectation, we're really not doing much good.

Below are some noble ideas I've been thinking about that could help course correct some of our attitudes. I believe in the power of action—specifically, the small adjustments we can make every day to make a real tangible difference.

This is more than just saving face. This is about protecting and loving those around us. Whether at work or in our families, people deserve our best.

So here's a credo. A millennial leadership manifesto of sorts. Would you join me in helping shape the future of humankind?

As a millennial leader, I declare to:

  1. Lead with passion, and not with angst. The world has enough angst. Anxiety and depression are robbing our fellow man of joy and gladness. Instead, let's live full of hope and vigorously pursue a better future.
  2. Love the other, including my enemy. This does not mean we have to agree with our enemy. It simply means that we will lead with love, and not hate.
  3. Build bridges, not walls. Walls create division. Bridges build connection. We will seek to understand, then to be understood.
  4. Creatively solve problems, not complain about them. Complaining does absolutely nothing but breed discontentment and bitterness. Instead, bring your skillset to the problem-solving table and participate in creating a solution.
  5. Lead with empathy, not suspicion. When we lead with suspicion, we think, "How is this person against me?" When we lead with empathy, we think, "How can I be for this person?" Believe the best about people.
  6. Be a team player, not a solo artist. Life is a team sport. We won't make it on our own. Lean on others for support and be someone to lean on.
  7. Honor the elders. Those that have gone before us have pioneered a path. Their ceiling is now our floor. There's wisdom in gray and knowledge in experience. Let's not take our fathers and mothers for granted.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But these are things we can do immediately. We don't need permission to lead with humility and love, we just need to get over ourselves and do it. Do it, and watch what happens to the flicker in the eyes of those around you. You'll have a bonfire in no time.