Excellent organizational leadership remains critical to a company’s success, but leadership strategies have changed in the past few decades. A top-down, authoritarian structure that once represented the most popular approach has given way to new ideas that call for a more inclusive, visionary approach that engages employees and puts people first.
A generation of Millennial employees has helped drive these changes. They increasingly want to work with companies committed to a diverse workforce, innovative technology, sustainability, and supporting employees in advancing their careers. Millennials also prefer workplaces where collaborative teamwork is the norm.
The best methods for managing teams and creating a positive company culture for employees of all ages, including Millennials, is what students will study in an undergraduate organizational leadership degree program.
The Importance of Organizational Leadership
Organizational leadership differs significantly from traditional management. Managers concentrate on processes, looking for ways to make operations more efficient and effective. Leaders focus on strategic business plans, positive organizational change, fostering a culture of innovation, and creating a vision they can articulate and define for members of their team or organization.
Organizational leaders focus on a holistic approach to running a business. They foster a commitment to positive change, support the career aspirations of team members, promote resilience, and stay current on methods for leveraging innovative technology to reinforce strategic goals.
Part of the success of organizational leadership hinges on understanding employees and the distinctions between workers of different generations.
Who Are the Millennials?
Generational definitions can vary, but the Pew Research Center defines the Millennial Generation as those born between 1980 and 1995. In 2019, Millennials overtook Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation (72.1 million Millennials vs. 71.6 million Baby Boomers).
Millennials moved into their teen years just as technology revolutionized both private and work life. They embraced digital devices as they entered their formative years and have incorporated technology into all aspects of their adult life.
In the workplace, Millennials have shown an ease with adapting to changing times, perhaps due to living through so many changes already in their lifetime. Millennials also:
- Value teamwork. Millennials enjoy a work environment that encourages collaboration and seeking out alternative viewpoints.
- Appreciate feedback. Millennials recognize how valuable regular feedback is, including recognition for work well done, constructive criticism, and mentorship.
- Desire meaningful work. As a generation, Millennials tend to see their professional lives as a chance to make a difference in the world.
- Sharing success. While they can be as career-focused as members of any generation, Millennials thrive on collaboration and want to see everyone succeed.
Managing and Leading Millennials
Successfully managing Millennials requires attention to specific crucial considerations. Inclusiveness ranks at the top of the list. Millennials favor teamwork and see excluding people as wrong. According to LinkedIn, “Words and actions need to make it obvious that people are accepted as valuable human beings.” People should have the space to become learners and contributors, as well.
Millennials also value clear communication and transparency from top executives within an organization. Generation X CEO Anthony Smith wrote in Forbes that Millennials want two-way communication that gives them more voice in organizational operations.
“The old top-down communications models are gone for good,” Smith wrote. “Employees want a voice, regardless of their role level in your organization. As a leader, empower your mid-level managers to engage in two-way conversations so that they feel comfortable and confident enough to elevate the concerns of millennials.”
He also referenced a Deloitte survey showing that 41 percent of Millennials feel stressed all or most of the time. Organizational leaders must address workplace stressors and keep talented people from leaving a company because they feel overwhelmed by work.
The Point Park University Organizational Leadership Programs
The Point Park University online BA in Organizational Leadership program offers students a strong foundation in modern leadership. The online format allows students to learn from wherever they live and on a schedule that works with their professional and personal responsibilities.
The knowledge and skills people gain apply to leadership positions in all industries. Courses in the program cover a wide range of advanced leadership topics.
- Business Communication and Research
- Ethical Leadership
- Dynamics of Business and Strategic Planning
- Leadership: Confluence of Emotional and Cultural Acumen
- Leading Organizational Change
- Gender Dynamics in Leadership
- Systems Thinking for Emerging Leaders
Tanika Harris, a graduate of the program, said in a recent interview that she quickly applied what she learned in the program to her new job as Director of Communications at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in Pittsburgh. She has “beta-tested a few academic theories to determine their applicability to our current reality at the URA, such as systems thinking and leading an organization amid change.”
Point Park also offers an online MA in Organizational Leadership that allows students to hone their leadership skills further. The program offers students four concentrations: General Concepts in Organizational Leadership; Leading Social Innovation; Leading for Diversity and Inclusion, and a National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer concentration designed for graduates of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program.