Here’s why Joseph Folkman believes ‘millennials’ make better managers


Folkman wrote in his blog why he thinks younger managers are better performers.

Joseph Folkman and his partner, Jack Zenger, of the leadership development consultancy, Zenger/Folkman, explored a database of more than 65,000 leaders. They looked more deeply at managers who were 30 years of age and younger (455 leaders) and compared them to an older group of leaders, over 45 years of age (4,298). Once they separated the two groups, they looked at the distinguishing characteristics of each. Post this analysis, they concluded that younger managers are better performers. Here is why:

Willingness to change
The younger leaders embrace change. They do a great job of marketing their new ideas. They have the courage to make difficult changes. Possibly their lack of experience causes them to be more optimistic about proposals for change. It is as if they do not know that changes are hard to make happen. They possess the courage to take on significant changes and are more willing to be the champions of change projects.

Ability to inspire
Younger leaders know how to get others energised and excited about accomplishing objectives. They are able to inspire others to high levels of effort and production— to an even greater degree than their more experienced counterparts. Their older colleagues tend to more often lead with ‘push’ while they lead with ‘pull’.

Receptivity to feedback
Young leaders are extremely open to feedback, and they frequently ask for feedback. They want more extensive feedback regarding their performance, and they find ways to both digest and implement the same. Older leaders tend to be less willing to ask for and respond to feedback from colleagues.

Desire for continuous improvement
The younger leaders are more willing to challenge the status quo. This could be because they have invested less in the past. They are constantly looking for innovative ways to accomplish work more efficiently and with higher quality.

Focus on results
Young leaders will do everything possible to accomplish objectives. They have a high need for achievement and will put every ounce of energy and effort they have into achieving their goals. In contrast, when someone has been in an organisation for a long period of time, it is easy to become complacent and to see the status-quo as sufficient.

Eagerness to elevate goals
The younger leaders are more willing to set stretch goals. Some older leaders learn to sandbag goals so they don’t have to work too hard or run the risk of falling short of a goal. Younger leaders are more prone to set stretch goals and inspire their team to strive to achieve difficult tasks.


  1. Looks like a very cooked up report. I have seen many oldies experimenting things where youngsters are not even willing to try. All the above parameters are person specific, there is significant variation. People seem to publish their personal opinions, perhaps telling people what they might like to hear. Complete junk.

  2. Young manager will dare to take risk as they have nothing to loose. They know age is there side & hence opportunities are many if one option does not work out. Older managers are more responsible , matured & take well informed decisions based upon their past experience. They are strategic advisor who will guide , mentor , nurture young managers. Both go hand in hand & work in conjunction.

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