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Speak Of The Week: Simon Sinek, “The Millennial Question”

Speak Of The Week: Simon Sinek, “The Millennial Question”

When he sat down for an interview with the popular internet program Inside Quest late last fall, Simon Sinek, the renowned leadership expert, TED sensation, and bestselling author of both Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, could not have anticipated that a portion of the interview would end up being seen by over 50 million people by the start of 2017. But that’s exactly what happened — Simon Sinek “broke the internet” and it’s easy to understand why: when asked “The Millennial Question”, his answer struck a chord with people around the world.

For those that aren’t familiar, The Millennial Question is one that leaders ask time and time again, falling along the lines of “why are millennials so hard to manage” or “why are millennials so hard to please in the workplace?”

It’s a short question, in a sense, but Sinek veers away from providing an equally short or pat answer. His response wasn’t what’s become the usual reply of giving the “difficult” Millennials “more flexible hours” or (as he says cheekily in the clip) giving them more “beanbag chairs.”

Instead, Sinek chose to take the long view on the question, stepping back to really address what’s he feels is at the root of Millennial discontent: parenting, technology, impatience, and environment.

Sinek explains that the problems Millennials are having at work stem from how they were raised: they were brought-up by parents who discouraged hard work; their over-use of the internet and smartphones have meant they lack firm social ties and are addled with low self-esteem; and that this same technology has inhibited their ability to develop patience when seeking reward.

Ultimately, Sinek says, it is this kind of baggage that the Millennials arrive with when they enter workforce, and that it’s up to leaders and managers to recognize this reality and it if they want to not only retain young staff, but see their organizations flourish.

Leaders, he says, need to start providing Millennials with the support and wisdom they need — the reassurance that hard work is necessary work; that it’s okay to fail; that developing trust means investing in relationships face to face; and that achieving success can take time.

For providing a long answer to a short question, and by doing so reminding everyone of the challenges we face in today’s fast-paced, often impersonal world, we chose Simon Sinek as our Speak of the Week.