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What Does Modern Leadership Really Mean?

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

Does a new workforce require new leadership styles?

  • Millennials have challenged the traditional style of leadership by having different values and expectations from their leaders.
  • Communication, relationship-building and empowerment are some of the major key components influencing millennial leadership styles.
  • Millennials as leaders are more outspoken, project confidence and are natural entrepreneurs. 

What do millennials want in a leader?

Millennials are currently the largest demographic in today's workforce. Their needs in the workplace are driven by the desire to find a life purpose and fulfillment. It is crucial for an organization to align its mission to one that serves a bigger, life-changing purpose than merely selling a product or service to the market. Leaders must, therefore, define each role assigned to a millennial based on this mission in order for them to find fulfillment.

Leaders must be able to look at each individual holistically. The needs and concerns of your employees outside of work directly impact their performance at work. Millennials who have a family also desire that their employer address issues affecting their family. These issues include medical insurance as well as maternity and paternity leave, among others.

Does a new workforce require new leadership styles?

There's no doubt that most of the conversations in the business world seem to center around the ever-changing needs, behaviors and characteristics of the current – and future – employee bases.

For some time now, this has been a major focus for companies looking to better understand their potential hires and, in turn, how those people will impact their organizations.

But what about the leaders? It makes sense that if the employee base is evolving, then surely so must the leadership? Turns out, that is exactly what's happening.

As organizations embrace the millennial evolution that is taking place, they're seeking new leadership styles that 10 years ago wouldn't have been considered necessary, or even effective.

Here are four leadership styles that are emerging in our modern workforce.


These leaders don't just think "outside of the box," they also hire outside of it – and expect the same from their recruits. Innovative leaders focus on the big picture, with an understanding that to achieve the next big thing, there is a significant need for risk-taking.

What does this look like? You'll likely find fewer protocols and processes happening under the leadership of an innovator and, instead, a push toward seeing what successes shake out from unorthodox approaches.


Exactly as it sounds, servant leaders ensure the overall happiness and success of their employees. Servant leaders invest both personally and professionally in their team members: getting to know them better, what their ultimate goals are and how they can help employees achieve those goals. This comes across through mentorship programs, company training sesssions and continuous education, often on behalf of the company.


Easily one of the most debated topics currently, the trend toward increasing empathy in leadership, let alone in today's culture, has two very opinionated sides. That said, for companies that strive for empathetic leadership, the ability to listen and understand employees ultimately improves the workplace culture for more productivity and, in turn, success.

Committed to diversity

Finally, it's the leaders who are persistently on the lookout for diversity that create big leaps forward for organizations. Those with the ability to look beyond the normal outlets for new hires – and successfully recruit people from all walks of life – have an innate understanding that with diversity comes fresh perspectives. Typically at the forefront of social injustice and movement for change, these leaders aren't willing to stray from their belief that welcoming everyone – regardless of sex, religious beliefs, ethnicity or sexuality – only enhances the culture and growth of the company.

There are, of course, other traits that are becoming mainstays in the business world. Companies are embracing flexible workforces in their efforts to offer a better work-life balance, emphasizing healthy communication, leading by example and employee empowerment.

It's exciting to see the changes coming from the most successful companies around the world. With more millennials continuing to enter the workforce, there will no doubt be more transformations in leadership practices coming our way.

Millenials leadership styles

It is essential to analyze what millennials bring to the table as leaders. Are they different from the traditional leaders? Here are a few skills that millennials offer as leaders.

Millennials are more willing to speak out.

Traditional leaders have known to maintain the organizational culture of doing things. Millennials, on the other hand, as leaders are willing to speak out on areas of dissatisfaction and challenge old ways of doing things. A good example of that is today's organizations are willing to embrace new ways of communication besides the formal emails. Organizations can now use text messaging to market their products.

Millennials prefer a teamwork approach versus an authoritative style of management.

One of the most important values millennials hold is their need to build relationships. Millennial leaders prefer using a team approach versus an individualistic approach to achieve the goals and mission of the organization. Millennial leaders will seek the opinions of their teams before making major decisions.

Millennials as leaders seek purpose and fulfillment.

Family values and individual goals are key aspects of millennial leadership styles. Millennials leaders are embracing their employees working from home. An employee can serve their family and still meet the needs of the organization. Video conference is an important component of communication when employees are working away from the usual workplace.


Image Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock
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