How to be a Differentiated Leader for Millennials (Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix)


How to be a Differentiated Leader for Millennials (Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix)

The interviewer asked me, “What do leaders really want from the Millennial salespeople?” What sales strategy will you be implementing to motivate your millennial salespeople?

How would you answer that question?

Here’s what I said, “I want my people to come to work and have fun, to be on track, to be engaged, confident, creative, collaborative, energized, respectful, and to have integrity. I want them to be focused forward in going out and accomplishing our objectives together to serve our clients.”

What else would you add to this list?

One of my favorite books on leadership is Edwin H. Friedman’s Failure of Nerve, Leadership in the age of the quick fix. Friedman challenges many longstanding beliefs about what defines good leadership.

Some concepts from Friedman’s well-differentiated leadership theory fly in the face of conventional leadership. For example, he believes that leaders need to accept sabotage as a sign that they are doing things correctly.

Yes, you read that correctly!

Sabotage is a sign that you’re doing things correctly.

Now I don’t like to hear that – expect and accept sabotage?  Ugh!

I also remind myself regularly about this powerful list of leadership attributes: 
  • I focus on strengths. I’m concerned with my own growth and let others focus on their own growth.
  • I work with motivated people, mature the system, and am emotionally stable.
  • I seek long-term change and take stands so I have internal clarity and can communicate clearly.
  • I focus on forward momentum. I identify and work on my own stuff. I embrace and accept the challenge of difficult circumstances, accept sabotage, and emotional tantrums as affirmations of being effective.
  • I encourage others to take personal accountability.
  • I awake each day excited to work and walk with the Lord.

For a quick summary, watch this video discussion on Failure of Nerve.

I find these stages helpful in discerning what might be happening because of a poorly differentiated leader.

These are some of the characteristics of a well-differentiated leader.

I have read Failure of Nerve more than once. Well, more than twice also.

When you’re mentoring or coaching a Millennial leader, understanding the difference between being a well-differentiated leader vs. a poorly differentiated leader is important.

When you compare the scenarios above, where do you see yourself?

Watch my Video How to Motivate Your Sales Team Through a Successful Sales Management Process Here:

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a well-differentiated leader is this – they take care of themselves.  In so doing, they can take care of others too.  Only then can he or she truly understand the meaning of this commandment…“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

LeadershipNow Magazine
Check out my article in LeadershipNow magazine, entitled, How to Be an Engaging Leader in a World of Robotics, AI, and Digitization.

For previous articles in this series go to: Great Leaders Build Great Next-Gen Leaders, How to be a Listening Leader for Millennials and How to be a Transformational Leader for Millennials.

For the final (summary) article in this series go to: Proven Insights on How to be a Great Leader

Leadership Development Lesson:

Well-differentiated leaders stay on course and stick to their goals. 

Leadership Development Question:

As you are mentoring and coaching an emerging leader, how might you be a calming presence in his or her life?

Millennials Matter
Check out the new Millennial Sales Growth Workshop. Then call me for a FREE consultation at 612-267-3320. Or, eMail me at


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