I recently heard a Senior Vice President of Talent Development of a Fortune 10 company use the following words to describe what future leaders must embody: Transformation, igniting change, global and competitive, calculated risk, quick decision making, looking outside the industry, and action oriented. Immediately following that list, I thought to myself—those words better entrepreneur.  

The Inevitable Entrepreneurship Evolution, How Millennials and Generation Z Will Demand A New Kind Of Leadership

For as long as any of us can remember, management has been a crucial component of our organizations. Management has consisted of six functions: Forecast and plan, organize, command or direct, coordinate, develop output, and control. 

Does this sound like how your organization is managed? I bet it does. However, these six functions of management were written by Henri Fayol in 1916. We now live in a world where virtually every single industry is being disrupted. The rules have changed so why we still practice the same management style from the early 1900s is a bit concerning since the workplace looks entirely different.

Management can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt, however, modern management—which you and I are most familiar with—was molded in the 20th century with the creation of the first MBA program at the Tuck School of Business and with thought leaders like Peter Drucker. 

Drucker introduced the concept of valuing your employees and treating them like assets instead of liabilities dispelling the previous notions of a demand and control manager mentality. Following Drucker came John C. Maxwell, who encouraged managers to become leaders and taught them to focus on inspiring, equipping, and serving their teams.

The few who have adopted Drucker and Maxwell’s teachings on management and leadership, have come a long way. But the far majority are still stuck in the 1900s. However, I think we are on the verge of another leadership evolution on the heels of the massive invasion of Millennials into the workplace. 

The next generation of great leaders will operate like entrepreneurs. In many ways the terms “leaders” and “entrepreneurs” have already become synonymous. Leaders will shift from command and control, to innovation and ingenuity; and from experience and knowledge, to learning and applying. 

Millennial’s and Generation Z’s affinity for entrepreneurship will eventually become the dominant work and leadership style. The shift from leaders to entrepreneurs will gain momentum as the Millennials step into leadership roles but will accelerate when Generation Z enters the workforce. This change will be gradual but inevitable.

  • 90% of Millennials think being an entrepreneur means having a certain mindset rather then starting a company. (Elance/Odesk)
  • 54% of Millennials either want to start a business or already have started one. (Kauffman Foundation)
  • 61% of U.S. high school students want to be entrepreneurs rather than employees. (Post Gazette)
  • 63% of Generation Z think entrepreneurship should be taught in college. (Fast Company)

The major difference is that in the past not everyone had to be a manager/leader, but today we must all become entrepreneurs, no matter where in an organization you are. We must be self-efficient, take responsibility for outcomes, become nimble in our thinking, and agile in our skill sets. The exponential times we live in require it.

"What you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate—the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life—and skills like critical thinking, communication, and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge.” Thomas L. Friedman wrote this on March 30, 2013 in a column for the New York Times called, “Need a Job? Invent It.”  

Like the entrepreneurs they are, the emerging generations will invent and innovate. The future employee is evolving and therefore our leadership style must also evolve.

Question: What other benefits would leaders experience by being entrepreneur-like?

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Ryan Jenkins



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