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Leading Millennials: An Approach That Works

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Journal article

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Our Air Force is full of millennials. The military pyramid force structure means that there will always be considerably more young people than old, and the millennia generation roughly defined as those born from 1980 to 2000 has filled our ranks, especially the most numerous ranks of staff sergeant and captain. It will not be long before the oldest of them become senior leaders, but they will have left their mark on the military services long before then. In fact, as a group, they wield widespread influence today, making some senior leaders very uncomfortable. A recent t article in the US Naval Institutes Proceedings Magazine takes the measure ofmillennials, and it is not pretty. Millennials question authority, are unwilling to wait their tum, exhibit signs of laziness, use technology to bypass the chain of command, and routinely let customs and courtesies slip. The article concludes that millennials must be Course-corrected if they are to be assimilated into the culture and traditions of the military. We have just recently left the 8th Fighter Wing in Korea, where we were honored to serve as the wings commander and vice-commander, respectively. During an intense year, we worked and lived with millennials in the Wolf Pack, gaining experience and insights in leading them and observing their capabilities firsthand. We continue to have the privilege of leading and working with millennials. Perhaps most important-and a bit scary-is the fact that both of us have children who are millennials Although we acknowledge that the standard criticisms leveled against millennials contain grains of truth, we disagree with their overall tone. Like any generation, millennials have strengths and weaknesses, but we believe that their strengths far outnumber their weaknesses. Moreover, if we are truly committed to Strategic agility in our force, we must harness the creative power, enthusiasm for service, and teamwork they bring to our institution.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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