I’ve been in Atlanta this week at the Christian Leadership Alliance Conference. Here are a few relevant notes from a workshop by Wendy Johnson of Amor Ministries.

Point 1: How do established leaders need to change to lead Millennials?

Millennials don’t need to adapt to our world. We’re already in theirs, so we’re the ones that need to adapt. We’re trying to figure out how to use their technology and work in their cultural setting. We’re marketing and selling our product in their world. Therefore, it’s not their job to learn how to work in our culture. It’s our job to study them and adapt where necessary.

That’s an interesting point for me. What she’s saying is that a leader’s job is not to make other people conform to them and follow them, but to boldly make the changes so that followers will follow. Those changes might be personal or they might be corporate. Where do I need to change to adapt to leading Millennials? And where do I need to change my organization to gather Millennials to my cause?

Point 2: How can we create followers of Jesus Christ?

As leaders, we have the ability to shape our followers to be:

  • Faithful and loyal – These cannot be mandated, but leaders have the power to draw followers by their vulnerability and trust. We need to be loyal to them and allow them to make mistakes.
  • Obedient – We need to identify the boundaries that matter and hold our teams to them while allowing flexibility on the means. Millennials will follow the rules if we recognize their methods and processes are different, not wrong.
  • Last – Leadership doesn’t necessarily happen from the front.
  • Open – Leaders will know everything about their team. Will we be open in return? If you lie to your followers, you’re done.
  • Willing – We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for sacrifice. If we hold to the essentials but give up the how, we’ll get what we ask for and more.

I like this idea of follower development. Wendy said that it’s easier to discuss followership than leadership, because the latter is so hard to define. Leaders have the ability to build on the strengths of our followers and to shape our followers into incredibly effective teams. There’s more to think about here. I’ll come back to it in the days ahead.

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