A Fresh Leadership Model for a New Decade

Guest post from Dr. Ranya Nehmeh:

Why do the rest of us act like millennials are from
another planet? We have a need to comment on the constant screen gazing, the
matcha latte obsession, the job-hopping, the mood swings from apathy to
omg…don’t even try to say you don’t know what I’m talking about. Millennials
are such a distinct demographic, possessing generation wide characteristics
that seem far from the norm, but let’s face it, this is the group that will
start dictating the norm, especially in the work place.
have undergone massive shifts over the last decade in terms of how they operate.
The workplace of today is unrecognizable compared to when baby boomers (born between
1946 – 64) started their careers. Work spaces, technology, demographics,
cultural sensitivities, and remote working are but a few of the areas that have
changed. Boomers instigated many of these changes to adapt the workplace to fit
their needs. But now that they are starting to retire, what will happen to
their stable work approach and traditional top-down leadership practices?
Thanks, but no
thanks Boomer, is what the tech-savvy, confident millennials (born between 1980
– 2000) are saying. They prefer a bottoms-up approach, and want to feel
involved and valued in the workplace. They have no interest in being told how
things are done, or how things work.  They
also have different ideas about what constitutes a good leader. This has contributed
to a leadership gap: what millennials expect vs. what they are getting from
their leaders.  
With the onset
of a new decade, it is predicted that millennials will make up almost half of
the American workforce, so it is time for organizations to pay attention and
minimize this leadership gap in order to embrace, as opposed to alienate, this
valuable group of workers. The key is to stop trying to lead millennials by
using generic leadership approaches, and start looking for innovative ideas
that speak to this specific target group, or better yet, just start by
So where do we
start? Well, we need to ask them what they want and not scoff at their
responses.   That’s what I did. I went straight
to the source and conducted an extensive survey of over 700 millennials from
around the globe. And so, after dozens of conversations, and a few too many
matcha lattes, I had a much better understanding of what they wanted. There was
consistency in what they were asking for, which was a leadership style that was
in sync with the times (technology, social media, ethics, respect) and catered
to their needs, perspectives and strengths. Nine clear leadership traits emerged.
I took the first letter of each trait and came up with the word … CHAMELEON.
The ideal leader
of millennials would possess these nine traits…The CHAMELEON Leader.
During the
survey, one of the questions asked participants if their leadership
expectations were met when they joined the workplace; 62% said no. This
statistic is alarming and highlights that millennials’ leadership expectations
are, for the most part, not being met. Of course we like to say their
expectations are unrealistic, but if you take a look at them you will realize
that they are very in tune with the world we live in, and the world we hope to
live in.
Leader is meant to provide the bridge between expectation and reality. Why a
chameleon? Because chameleons change color according to the situation. They are
This new decade,
which will be ripe with environmental concerns, instability, and technology
booms, requires a new leadership model. Leaders who are ready to embrace this
young and ambitious generation and lead them energetically into the future will
require a shift in mind-set, a visionary approach, a willingness to collaborate
not dictate, inspire not conspire, but most importantly to get excited about
the potential benefits of having this generation on board. Being a chameleon leader for millennials means finding out
what is important to them and creating an authentic way to communicate that

Dr. Ranya Nehmeh, author of the book The CHAMELEON Leader. Connecting with Millennials holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from the Swiss Management

University and a Masters in Human Resources from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has over fifteen years of work experience in the area of human resource management. Based in Vienna, Austria. Ranya considers herself a third-culture kid. The CHAMELEON Leader is her debut book.