5 Reasons Millennial CEOs Aren't Taken Seriously (And What To Do About It)

5 reasons millennial ceos aren't taken seriously and what to do about it. Hayley Collins Coaching.

So, you landed the CEO role as a millennial (go you!), but you’ve begun to notice that your board, staff and community aren’t really taking you seriously. You are the CEO and they aren’t taking you seriously. 

Um, wtf?! 

You worked hard to get where you are professionally, you’ve got the chops, but somehow, you get the sense that the people who are critical to your success are making it clear that they don’t trust that you can do this. 

I have good and bad news….

The good news is, it’s probably not about YOU specifically. Rather about “you” being a millennial. (And we’ll discuss why in a sec).

The bad news is, you’re going to have to work just a little bit harder to be taken seriously.

Here are the top 5 reasons millennial CEOs aren’t taken seriously and what to do about it!

Reason #1: Millennials are seen as unreliable, irresponsible and unprofessional

Here’s how to combat this stereotype:

Be professional. Be reliable. Be responsible. Be 5 minutes early to everything and always be prepared (notebook, pen, phone on silent). Dress the part. 

Answer emails within 3 days of receiving them even if it is just to say “I will have to get back to you”. Be polite. Be gracious.

Pivot: There is no pivot here. The stereotype is really all bad!


Reason #2: Millennials are seen as lacking experience and the knowledge that comes from experience

!hy millennial ceos aren't taken seriously and what to do about it. Hayley Collins Coaching.

Here’s how to combat this stereotype:

Be actively involved at meetings. Assert your opinion. Listen. Share your knowledge. And remember, that everyone needs to build their trust in you, including your board, your staff and your community. 

So show up, be of service and showcase your leadership skills, not just your problem solving/hard facts skills. To be fair, every new leader is to some degree an unknown quantity, so this is a universal issue, but it is one that millennial leaders can feel more acutely.

Pivot: Emphasize your eagerness to learn from everyone, and offer up some self-effacement. 

Swing open the doors on your personality so people feel that they can approach you with anything. Of course, all leaders should do this, but your job is a little bit easier.

Reason #3: They are seen as needing constant praise, attention and instant gratification

Yes, we like praise and instant gratification. Many of us grew up with helicopter parents and smart phones. Sadly, you simply won’t get that kind of instant feedback as the CEO or a top leader. Hire someone to support you, not your company, just you (an executive coach, a life coach, a therapist, a consultant). 

This will provide you an outlet as well as support that no leader, at any age, can receive from their stakeholders. You also have to recognize that it is not anyone else’s job to manage you. You have to learn how to ask for what you need if you want feedback, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

Pivot: Don’t seek praise at the office, rather adapt to frank, quick feedback.

Reason #4: They are seen as non-loyal and non-committal (i.e. they will not stay long and will quit at the first sign of rough waters)

Just because you don’t want to stick around for a pension from this job, doesn’t mean you aren’t a raving fan. However, this was the modus operandi for many in the older generation (likely your board members and many staff). So they are skeptical. You just have to work to convince them that you are all in right now. That you are committed to the success of the company.

Pivot: Remind them that successful companies learn to expect change because change creates growth. With a leader in any position for too long, the company inevitably stagnates and you don’t want that for the company.

How to be a successful millennial CEO. Hayley Collins Coaching.

Reason #5: They are seen as egotistical, opinionated and entitled

Here’s how to combat this stereotype:

Actively listen. Build rapport. Use your body language to show that you are listening and engaged. Don’t be apathetic or always in a rush. Have an open door policy. Show that you care. 

(Don’t be the first to state your opinion, because it may squelch dissenting opinions, or it may simply aggravate the stereotype.)

Pivot: Think about the example you set, and others in your organization who might not feel empowered to state their opinion freely unless they are drawn out. Rather than retreating from your positions, consider how you can hear other opinions from team members and stakeholders who would not instinctively share their own thoughts, and foster a culture of open and constructive discussion.

Stereotypes are hard to avoid, but they aren’t that durable in the face of reality. 

Don’t take offense quickly, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. If they are paying attention (a big if), they will recognize your work ethic, maturity, and humility and see you in a new light. Above all, assumptions about who you are and how you work aren’t really about you. 

They say more about the lack of knowledge that others have about you, and you have the power to reset their expectations.

Hayley Collins

is a coach, consultant, and CEO who helps millennial women step into the CEO role of any organization with strategy, skill, and unstoppable self-confidence. She works with her female clients in 1x1 sessions, group programs, and The Millennial CEO Bootcamp™—to seriously shortcut their learning curve and ramp up their leadership skills!

Become a successful CEO.

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