7 Tips to help Gen Y develop an essential leadership skill

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Call them what you will: Gen Y, Millennials, youth, or younger generation.

Viewing this cohort through my eyes as a Baby Boomer they have so much going for them as a generation despite having many assertions and criticisms levelled against them most of which, in my view, are unwarranted. Why am I so certain? I have had the privilege of working with this generation every year for the last 19 years through AIESEC (http://aiesecaustralia.org).

Here’s what I have observed about this group:

  • They understand and value diversity
  • They are tech savvy
  • They care about others and have ‘true heart’ for making the world a better place
  • In the main, they are far more self-aware than other generations were at the same age
  • They are more progressive
  • They are quick to learn and adapt
  • They have a more global perspective

In our work with this generation in developing and broadening their leadership and management capability there is one essential leadership skill that needs further focus – critical thinking.   Their leaders tell us when a situation arises that this cohort have not encountered before, or with which they lack familiarity, their immediate response is ‘tell me what I have to do’ without them investing time to think critically about possible options and solutions and hence there is the potential for valuable learning opportunities to be lost.

If you lead this cohort and you have come across this, or as part of this generation you want to expand your skills to be better able to apply critical thinking skills to a range of situations and challenges, here are seven tips to consider:

  • Understand the essential elements required for critical thinking – clarity, relevance, logic, objectivity, feelings, and discipline
  • Learn how to question basic assumptions by applying cause and effect thinking. If this occurs what will that cause and what will the effect of that be?
  • As good as it is, don’t rely on Google – evaluate the evidence. How was it gathered, by whom, and why?
  • Start with options, consider the consequences (positive and negative) and then craft your solution
  • Practice; find the solution to a problem or meet a challenge everyday by thinking critically about the response
  • Don’t be afraid to access how you feel about the situation or use your intuition
  • Think for yourself – don’t get bogged down in the complexities of too much information in this data rich world. Often the best solutions are simple and elegant, however it requires critical thinking to achieve this outcome

The reality is these tips can be applicable to any generation as the capacity to think critically is a skill; it is not something that most people are naturally endowed with. Helping this younger cohort learn how, through application and practice will make them even stronger contributors as leaders.

Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.