Cutting across the silos – Inspiring lessons for millennial leaders

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in ComLead, Managing Not-For-Profit Organizations, Organizational Leadership

Cutting across the silos – Inspiring lessons for millennial leaders

In a recent New York Times article, a statistic was presented showing that millennials as a generational cohort will soon outnumber baby boomers.  And as a student looking at millennials and how they fit in as donors in the nonprofit world, I have been interested in seeing what impact the millennials will have on our world.  But also how I as a millennial can and will have an effect on the world.

A podcast titled “Millennial Leader” sets out to interview millennial leaders and how they have gained leadership roles in their careers.  In the most recent episode, they interviewed Justin Miller, the executive director for a nonprofit organization called, Care for AIDS.  The organization helps AIDS stricken families in living sustainable lives in Kenya.

In Miller’s interview, he defines some essentials for millennials who are entering or moving up in the workplace, especially those entering the nonprofit field.

First he defines what he thinks makes the millennials generation unique to previous generations.

  • Millennials want constant and honest feedback, as well as having their own voices heard.
  • Millennials believe there is a fresher way of working that doesn’t involve a 9-5, office environment and that innovation can be done both within the company walls and within the greater community.
  • Millennials are looking for purpose over.
    profit, meaning they are more likely to pick culture over compensation.

When it comes to nonprofits, Miller argues that collaboration and partnership are replacing the days of competition.  No longer are nonprofits competing with one another, but looking to create synergy with one another.  He believes that with this trend comes the high stakes of leadership, which he defines simply as influence and boils what makes a good leader into to several quick notes:

  • If you try to do everything you won’t do anything well.
  • You need to get better before you get bigger.
  • Embrace failure and do everything with intention and excellence.

Miller’s findings coincide with a lesson from our Leadership class, which focuses on building and working on strengths rather than trying to fix weaknesses.  But with that comes the idea of collaboration – where one person is strong another may be weak and it brings with it the natural sense of teamwork.

Care for AIDS had to cut programs that directly benefited children with AIDS.  When the program was cut, many thought it was devastating, but Miller argues that instead the organization focused on something different: family sustainability.  Care for AIDS works to help parents through a nine-month program to educate and help parents educate and care for their children and themselves.  It isn’t just about helping people, but giving them the dignity to help themselves.

“Great leaders serve,” Miller says.  By his work through Care for AIDS and his desire to inspire millennial leaders, it is clear why.

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