Recently I read this essay by fellow New Englander and Blogger Dave Ursillo. The point of his post for those who don't hyperlink, is that because of the current great recession the Gen Y/Millennial group will start their careers in an impaired position. As a result of starting so far behind, they will face a leadership gap as too few Millennials will be able to rapidly ascend to the highest ranks in an organization, where "leadership" is supposed to happen. His essay and my immediate response along with a this post on my "Professional blog" got me thinking about Millennial Leadership and my thoughts led me to one macro-level question...
What will Millennial leadership look like in the future?
Leadership in the future will look a lot like what it does today. A few people at the top making decisions and choosing the direction for the masses. As it were humans have been plagued by this irrational need to have someone tell them what to do for a long time as Thomas Paine points out in his essay "Common Sense" (A must read for all generations, but Millennials specifically). Millennials for all their spunk and "never-trust-anyone-older-than-30" Planter of the Apes type bravado will still continue to look to others for direction and leadership. As a result leadership will look much like the same as it does today, on the surface. However below the surface, leadership will be like nothing we've ever seen before, because it will become transparent.
In the world of today leaders are allowed to be mysterious because we assume decision makers have more or better information than we do. As a result we assume that their choices in leadership reflect that they have more information or a part of the story we aren't privy too. However there is tons of evidence to suggest that just isn't the case. Right off the top of my head, and I will attempt to be extremely bi-partisan here, I can say that Obama's handling of the current oil spill shows he doesn't have any more information than the rest of us. The same way W. Bush had no more information about what was happening post-Katrina than we did. Now while we can all blame the MEDIA for a lot of things. The oil gusher video-feed and 24hour news during Katrina tell us all the information we needed to know... The situation is/was bad and not much leadership is/was taking place. However the fact remains that in these scenarios we could all see how leaders weren't getting the job done, hence leadership transparency. As technology continues to push us more towards "INSTANITY" (my term to describe the fact that I can't go 2 minutes without checking, Twitter, FB, the news, or my e-mail), the role and effectiveness of leadership will become crystal clear.
Now the question transitions from what will leadership look like, to where will leadership come from?
Well the simple answer is leadership will come from everywhere. In my thesis on leadership, yes I wrote a thesis on leadership, I argue that anywhere strategic resources are being used, there you have leadership. Today we define strategic resources quite basically as people and money. Gen Y however is making it more than evident that information is the resource that links the other resources of people and money together. However technology makes everyone both a creator and miner of that information even if they have no clue what to do with it. For example, Paul Sparrow writes a lot of scholarly articles about information overload, that too much information is coming in and clouding our ability to sift through and drowning leadership. I argue that is only true in as much as the current crop of Baby boomer leaders were not raised in an overloaded environment i.e. have no no clue what to do with it, where Millennials have been immersed in information all their lives. Think about it, the interweb, e-mail, smartphones and constant connectivity are all products of Boomer innovation, but utilized and improved to perfection by Gen X and Gen Y. Which brings us to how crowd source, "the cloud", and social media are streamlining and filtering the information for future leaders, creating an encyclopedia of leadership. Therefore allowing leadership to come from all over. However, while leadership will come from all over, true Millennial leaders will be the ones most adept at using the transparent information for the betterment of others. Essentially they will become the embodiment of Umair Haque's Efficient Community Hypothesis, and Betterment theory, and I for one think that could be a great thing!