How to Help a New Generation of Bosses

What Do Millennials and Gen Z Need to Know to Become Successful First-Time Leaders?

In an interview with MONEY, I shared a book recommendation for first-time Millennial and Gen Z bosses. I picked an oldie but a goodie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” And I really feel it fits with what Millennials—and especially Gen Z—need to be successful in the workplace.

In our recent national study on Gen Z in the workplace, we found that the #1 area where Gen Z said they needed to improve to be successful in the workplace was public speaking and communication. These are also two areas critical to success for a first-time boss, but all too often these skills are not taught in the transition pathway to becoming a first-time manager.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a cornerstone book on how to connect with and build both trust and influence with others—and it has entertaining stories along the way.

One of the biggest pitfalls facing first-time managers, both Millennials and Gen Z, is that leadership still has to be earned from those you lead or manage. This is particularly true when you’re leading employees and team members for the first time and they are older than yourself, which is now a common situation facing both Millennials and Gen Z. I talk about this in my workplace keynote presentations.

First-time managers need to recognize that just because they have the title of manager, it doesn’t mean others see you as a manager or leader. You have to show people that you are a manager and a leader through your actions. You do so by modeling the behaviors we hear from Millennials and Gen Z that they want in a manager, including respect, inclusion, professionalism, training, and teamwork.

Making the transition from an employee to a manager is a critical step for Millennials and Gen Z, not just in terms of learning but in terms of their overall career pathway, speed of promotion, and other opportunities. To me being a great boss means not just carrying the title of boss but modeling the behaviors and mindset that you want in the culture where you lead.

Leadership Workforce


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