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Millennial workers prefer transformational leaders


UK Millennial workers are more motivated by and respond better to leaders who engage, challenge and inspire them

According to recruitment consultancy Freshminds, two-fifths (40.2%) of 241 respondents ranging from entry-level and middle management to senior executives and C-suite executives, agree that transformational leaders have the greatest impact on junior employee motivation.

This is followed in popularity by a democratic leadership style (36.5%) where leaders encourage open communication and employee participation. However, only one in 10 (9.5%) stated that they see autocratic leaders as the most effective in motivating junior employees.

Of the respondents who ranked 'autocratic' as their most effective leadership style, 35.4% held a director-level position or above while just 8.3% were in entry-level roles. The research estimated that the average age of a director or C-suite executive is between 57- and 59-years-old, highlighting a generation of leaders who value a leadership style of a clearly-defined chain of command, which places all control and decision-making firmly in the hands of leaders with no involvement from other stakeholders.

James Callander, managing director at Freshminds, said this top-down, rigid approach does not sit well with the majority of junior workers.

“Our findings demonstrate the need for leaders to take a transformational approach when it comes to managing and motivating graduate and early career talent – the so-called ‘Millennial’ generation,” he said. “Junior workers or Millennials... embody a marked shift that is taking place. They are driven by the desire to make a real difference for themselves, their colleagues and the organisation they work for.

“Organisations are increasingly vying with one another to gain a competitive edge; not just in the markets they operate but also in terms of attracting and – crucially – retaining the talent they need to help them achieve their goals," he added. "To do so means building winning teams, breaking down barriers, celebrating and rewarding successes, and identifying and developing those with the greatest potential within the organisation.”