Millennial is a buzzword that often bears a negative connotation. All too often, this generation is characterized as immature, entitled or short on attention. But as they transition into the workforce, it's important to focus on the main differentiator between millennials and the generations before them -- namely, the fact that they grew up immersed in digital technology.
Being born in the '80s and '90s meant living through a constant cycle of change -- not just software updates and new apps -- but also the transitions from floppy disks to CD-ROMS, Razrs to iPhones and bulky monitors to sleek laptops, to name a few. As a result, folks in this generation are programmed to expect change and always have their eyes peeled for bigger and better -- or thinner and faster -- technologies.
Digital natives, those who were born into the technological era, have learned to adapt to incessant movement and upgrades. As adults, they’ve carried this adaptability into their leadership roles and as a result, they’re primed to be strategic and successful CEOs. Don't believe me? Here are four reasons why they make great leaders:
1. They embrace the motto: 'If you’re resting, you’re already behind.'
Even when they’ve reached their initial business goals, digital natives know they can’t rest. After watching consumers move on from MySpace to Facebook and to Snapchat at the drop of a hat, they realize it’s critical to keep a finger on the pulse on the industry at all times. Remaining relevant to customers is the ultimate factor for success and as CEOs, digital natives are focused on anticipating what customers will want next, planning for it proactively instead of reactively.
2. They demand stellar customer experiences.
Having grown up with exceptional products and services from tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple, digital natives are used to demanding flawless experiences from their service providers. Now, as CEOs, they hold themselves to the same standard, focusing on creating a seamless experience for their customers from start to finish. Digital natives realize the importance of a fast and responsive team, sleek and easy-to-navigate apps and user-friendliness in all aspects of their business.
3. They have a need for speed.
Digital natives watched as dial-up Internet connection gave way to fast, always-on WiFi. They’re accustomed to instant, on-demand gratification, and the same goes for how they run their companies. Whether it’s an incremental interface update or a brand new product launch, digital natives make sure changes are made in the blink of an eye. These CEOs are unfazed by red tape and will do anything to avoid a long review process.
4. They’re not afraid to switch gears.
This new generation of CEOs not only expect massive shifts in their industries but anticipate them as part of their business strategy. Digital natives were around when the bubble burst, and they’ve seen major innovation in nearly every industry over the last 10 years. Like their older peers, they set long-term goals for their companies, but they also remain flexible on short-term tactics. This agility allows them to scrap a plan or product that isn’t working and pivot immediately.
While the millennial label has its controversies, growing up in the digital era has clear advantages for emerging entrepreneurs and executives. Their adaptability and forward-thinking put these digital CEOs in a great position to lead their companies ahead of the industry and the competition.