Each day, a greater number of millennials are filling roles of influence in work places, communities, government and churches.
As more young people step into leadership, we must ask the question, “What motivates the millennial leader?”
Millennials live in an era of constant snapchat communication, daily life-style vlogs, reality television and Facebook Live. Our world is consumed with a desire to capture every experience so it may be recorded, shared, watched and liked by the masses.
Where does this desperate need for our lives to be documented publicly come from? And is this millennial mentality beginning to seep into every age group and culture?
In Time magazine’s article Millennials: The ME ME ME Generation, author Joel Stein shares statistics revealing the root of our social, live-streaming, snapchat generation.
“The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982. Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.”
We live in a world shaped by narcissism and entitlement.
In fact, narcissism is so tightly woven into the fabric of our culture, it is often disguised as positive aspirations. We are inundated with quotes such as, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” “Believe in yourself.” “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
At some point, leaders of every age must take a step back and ask the hard question, “Have I accidentally reoriented my leadership around achieving MY dreams, believing in MYSELF, or promoting MY agenda?”
In order to break free, we must redefine leadership for ourselves, embarking on the adventure of recreating our role as leaders from the inside out.
No leader has ever flipped a societal norm on its head as well as Jesus Christ, Himself. Shuffling through Scripture, we are forced to confront the truth that Jesus Christ was anything but the leader the world expected Him to be.
Prophesies foretold a coming King who would overthrow the Roman Empire and rescue the people of Israel. However, the cry of a newborn infant was not the battle cry the Israelites had hoped for or expected.
In the matter of a moment, leadership was redefined forever as Jesus came to earth in a posture of humility and love, communicating a truth: Jesus came to serve, not to be served. (Matthew 20:28)
Hence, the paradox of leadership. Is leadership a platform with which to gain fame, fortune, respect and admiration? Or, taking a cue from the author of leadership, is it a grand calling for every leader to add value to the lives of the people they serve?
As a millennial leader, the calling of servant leadership challenges the shadow motivation behind my social, livestreaming, shareable, networking leadership.
If we truly want to embrace a selfless leadership that exists ONLY to add value to the lives of the people, there are three steps we can take today.
It is never easy to admit the selfish ambition that lurks behind our leadership. In order to reorient our leadership, we must begin by admitting the narcissism, however small, that still exists in our heart. Admit it to yourself and talk about it with a trusted friend or mentor. Granting yourself permission to be weak often leads to greater strength.
Our behavior rarely changes unless we replace it with something else. It is not enough to simply hope our self-centered motives will fade away by telling ourselves, “Don’t be narcissistic.” Rather, we must give ourselves a fresh and focused calling for our leadership. Here is one to try on for size: Add value to people. Add value to their lives. Add value to their stories. Add value
to their families. Add value to their work. Add value to their communities. This is a high leadership calling you can aspire to.
I recently met with the pastor of a growing church in the suburbs of Chicago. As we talked about the highs and lows of leadership, I asked him, “What is the single most important quality of a great leader?” Without a second thought he responded, “Add value to your people every day.” It doesn’t always have to be some great feat or grand gesture. Rather, he resolved to be faithful in taking a simple step of obedience in the way he loved his people.
This is leadership that truly matters.
Hannah Gronowski is the founder and director of Generation Distinct, www.GenerationDistinct.com, an organization that exists to inspire and equip the next generation to discover their passions and fight for justice in order to make God’s name great in this world. She has a passion to empower the next generation to become leaders and difference makers in a way that sparks a global movement. Hannah is also an author, blogger and speaker and lives in the Chicagoland area.