By Mike Breen
The following is a brief excerpt from Mike’s forthcoming book Multiplying Missional Leaders, which comes out at the beginning of May.
One of the problems about Millennials (or Gen Y, the generation right after Gen X) is that people within the generation have, in general, been over-parented. This is a sociological reality that has been studied to death. People born after 1980 have, by and large, grown up in a culture of parenting where parental responsibilities have clutched tightly as a reaction to the absentee parents of the previous generation. The parents we’re talking about don’t want to force onto their children the wounds that they feel were inflicted by their home life, and so they over-parent their children, to the extent that their children have never been trained to take responsibility.
To back up this broad-brush analysis, simply Google “helicopter parent.” You’ll find this is a whole new sociological field of research. A helicopter parent is a parent who hovers very close to his or her child all the way into adulthood. Human resource departments are now training their staff to negotiate not only with their employees but also with the parents of their employees. A very common trait in the employment process in the corporate world is that a parent turns up to an interview with his or her child, even though that child is in his or her mid-twenties, to help to negotiate the package for that child. This is so common that HR departments now have to do whole training seminars to deal with this reality.
A person who has been over parented to that extent is, in general, not standing up to the mature adult responsibilities that normally would be associated with the years of development between 20 and 30. As a result, that kind of maturation now doesn’t take place until between 30 and 40.
So the development of character and capacity is a huge responsibility. If you are largely working with young adults, know that the vast majority of these adults, even though they may look mature, don’t know how to tie their shoelaces. This is such a widespread feature in our society now that it behooves us, whenever we are thinking of bringing someone into leadership, to think through how we can assess that person’s character, capacity, the chemistry we might have with them on a team, and through those things, identify and endorse their calling.
If a person is joining a team and does not yet have the necessary character and capacity, I would suggest that your leadership pipeline recognizes that fact and trains people on such issues.
Multiplying Missional Leaders provides much more guidance on how to develop a leadership pipeline. Go to weare3dm.com for more information on how to order.
If you want to investigate more, here’s another excerpt from Mike’s blog.
UPDATE: And another excerpt.