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Be Tough on Millennials:  Strong Leadership is Key to Retention!

No size, no speed, and no talent pretty much sums up my high school football career. Yet, a high school football coach saw something in me that nobody else had seen until my junior year of high school.  Growing up in a small East Texas town where football is king, I had always heard stories of my Father’s exploits on the local grid iron and I wanted to prove myself as the next generation of awesomeness.  Yet, my physical gifts did not match my desire in the minds of most coaches.  By the time a varsity opportunity came along, I wanted to make the team and prove I deserved to be there and if lucky, get to play. To be honest, the chance of earning a starting position was remote.

One coach however, saw something that I and no one else had seen before.  From the beginning, he worked me over both verbally and physically to the point that many would have probably given up or quit.  Somehow he must have suspected that the extra stress might result in more output.  He determined that my fear of failing was greater than anything and pushed me very hard.  Early in my junior season, I took a starting position from provensenior and never look back.  His extra pressure on me never relented and I ended up with finishing high school football under-sized and probably over-recognized.

The lesson I took from that experience for life is far greater than the limitation of athletics.  He taught me that we can accomplish far more than the limitation of our own mind and the many people I call boat anchors in life.  Boat anchors are those people that hold us back when our dreams are larger than their myopic reality.  We can do, be, and perform far greater than common perceptions realize.

Contemporary research claims that millennials are weak and cannot sustain the rigors of strong coaches or worse, strict bosses.  Many people believe they cannot handle tough love.  Modern leadership methods suggest a soft approach to this generation as a method to the retaining the best talent.  Some suggest we must decrease strict accountability and accept substandard performance as a generational reality. 

My research suggests the opposite.  The best of this generation responds to the same stimulus as we in other generations have in the past.  The difference is experience and timing.  The expectations for millennials are different and we must earn the right to be tough as leaders.  Modern thinking and societal norms has made creating trust and respect a prerequisite for aspiring leaders. 


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