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Mentoring young women from the collaboration generation

As a featured sponsor of C12’s CURRENT ’19 conference in May, NCF is inspired by their mission to equip current and future marketplace leaders. Read on for some wise advice from one of the conference speakers, Danita Bye, on how Christian leaders can embrace millennial women and prepare them for future roles.

By Danita Bye, for C12

In Ephesians 5:16 we read that we must “make the best use of our time.” Some think this means managing their time well. So, out of obedience, they busy themselves, managing their calendars. But the ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos, and the one Paul uses in this verse isn’t clock time.

Chronos refers to the actual seconds and minutes that we can measure and manage. But Paul uses “kairos” here, a word that describes a particular moment in time, when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action.

The apostle Paul says that our time on earth is a series of opportunities. When we are constantly busy,  running from one activity to another, dutifully clicking things off our “to do” lists, we could miss one of these significant opportunities – a kairos moment.

As Christian leaders, wise stewardship calls for us to intentionally slow down, becoming aware of the “kairos” moments in our lives. This might be that moment for us – the favorable time for each of us to embrace the millennial woman whom God is strategically placing in our lives. In mentoring, coaching and discipling her, the trajectory of her life – and those she influences – is shifted.

It’s time to prepare the next generation of influential female leaders to have the humility to hear the Holy Spirit, the courage to obey, and the character to lead.


Facts and fake news about millennials

I invite you to do a Google search on millennials. You’ll get an avalanche of results, and not all of them kind. The fake news about millennials paints the entire generation as narcissistic, entitled, lazy, self-absorbed, and disloyal … and the list expands daily. My own research into this generation is not so bleak. Here’s what I have learned about Millennials:

  • 100 percent want to be seen as unique, not a number or a trend.
  • 91 percent aspire to leadership.
  • 79 percent want a coach or mentor, not a boss.

In a recent survey our company conducted, more than 60 percent of seasoned leaders surveyed said they have concerns about working with this generation, especially in these three areas:

Character – a lack of determination, resiliency, and accountability

Confidence – a know-it-all attitude; limited understanding for the hard work it takes to get a promotion

Collaboration – a disregard for experience of older generations; difficulty in dealing with face-to-face interactions

They need our input, wisdom and experience in these three vital areas. Research indicates that they desperately want a coach or mentor, someone to walk alongside them and stretch out a hand when they trip or fall. It’s time for us to engage and to catch hold of the “kairos moments” with these up-and-coming leaders.


Coaching for character

I often hear, “The world would be a better place if women were in charge!” Is this really true? Truth be told, I actually don’t think so. Good leadership is not determined by eye color or right handedness. Nor is it based on gender. It is based on the strength of one’s moral character. As Christian leaders, we are called to be wise stewards of our knowledge and wisdom, and I believe that includes seasoned women taking the time and energy to coach female millennial leaders in our sphere of influence. We need to build women who are positive influences in every relationship and role, for decades to come!

In coaching character, you may not want to lay down strict do’s and don’ts, but here are a few other “D” words that can help you build solid character traits in millennial women:

Determination – Determination is our ability to carry on doing something even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and obstacles. What is she avoiding, or putting on hold, because it just seems too difficult? Invite her to stretch her comfort zone every day by taking on even one small task she was avoiding yesterday. Celebrate her successes and support her when she gets stuck.

Discernment – How might you guide a young woman to develop discernment – to choose between right and wrong, truth and lie? Work together to develop a set of questions she can ask in high-risk situations to choose a wise pathway forward. This might include questions like, “What are the facts in this case?” and “What are alternative options?”

Dependability – In working with Millennials, they tell me they want a mentor who will do what they say and say what they do. If you model this behavior to them, it will be easier for them to grow into dependable role-players in their communities too. Talk about the actions that can demonstrate dependability, such as keeping a promise, or being on time. Also, include conversation about the negative impacts of broken promises or poor time management.

Discipline – Cultivate a disciplined, action-oriented mindset. This is a journey where you work with her to convert her dreams into goals that will turn into action. The renewal of our minds, (read Romans 12:1-2) is where everything starts. Explain to her how this renewed thinking can help her grow from a victim mindset to one where she is able to take ownership of her progress.

Coaching for challenges to collaboration

When we look at the social media activity of most Millennials, it’s easy to believe that they are expert collaborators. But, technology does have a downside. Young people are often so busy sharing their point of view that they forget to listen. How might you demonstrate the meaning of this verse to an emerging woman leader?

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

– Proverbs 11:14 (The Message)

Consider these guidelines when you coach young women on collaboration:

  • Listen deeply when she speaks. It teaches her to listen actively to others and to deal more constructively with conflict, growing her leadership influence.
  • Show your authentic, honest (even imperfect) self. Millennials hate pretense and hypocrisy, but welcome, and even crave, coaching and feedback from people they respect, especially on enhancing leadership acumen.
  • Give clear and frequent feedback. 72 percent of millennials prefer on-the-spot, forward-looking feedback as opposed to waiting for an annual review.

Coaching to build authentic confidence

Some people say millennials are over-confident and have a know-it-all stance. It’s important to understand that millennials, like many of us, connect with others on social media, portraying the exciting and successful parts of our lives. However, we know that this is rarely a true reflection of the full spectrum of what is going on in people’s lives. Comparing their own lives to the social media accounts of others can leave many young women feeling inferior and even depressed. Helping her become aware of this powerful influence can be enormously helpful.

As we mentor emerging women leaders, it’s important to build their confidence in who they are in Christ. This gives them a solid foundation:

  • Encourage her to take personal responsibility for her own behavior, versus blaming others for her circumstances.
  • See her as an individual, not just a number or a trend. Show that you care about both her personal and professional goals.
  • Spotlight her talents whenever possible to so that she sees how to leverage them into strengths that serve others.

Will you answer the call to mentor young women from this great new collaboration generation? I encourage you to seize this as kairos. Use your wisdom and insights as a catalyst to equip and energize the millennial women in your life. Look for the ordinary, everyday opportunities to mentor or coach an emerging woman in your sphere of influence. It’s the perfect moment, in God’s timing, to accomplish great things together.

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