Rachel Barnes is editor of Marketing.@rachelmrbarnes
Their characteristic restlessness of mind was, of course, around 'back in the day', but what was rare then, explains columnist Will Harris, is now endemic to an entire generation.
While I associate with some of their free-spirited characteristics, what I find exciting beyond the rhetoric is that they represent a whole wave of new thinking and expectations that is beginning to cascade through organisations. Is it too clichéd and gung-ho to think of them as an army of workplace disruptors, overturning decades of accepted practice and establishment shackles? Maybe, but I quite enjoy the hyperbole.
This week, we bring to your attention 10 remarkable individuals, who have already, in their short careers, claimed success. This year’s Next Generation Power 100 rising stars talk about authenticity and nurturing the team; they eschew the idea of a constructed ‘personal brand’, and have self-belief in spades.
I know what I’m doing. As arrogant as that sounds, I believe it
"I know what I’m doing. As arrogant as that sounds, I believe it," says Microsoft’s Andrew Smylie.
McDonald’s Chloe Bissell adds: "Selling your personal brand can overshadow the work that you and your team do. It’s important to let the work shine."
These marketers take a holistic view of work-life and the kind of leadership they aspire to. "Work should be an extension of your life. I don’t ever want to be in a job where I wish my week away – you only get one life," says P&G’s Patrick Megarry.
Unilever’s Grace Sobey already recognises that "being yourself is enough". "I would like to be a leader who uses my feminine qualities to better the work environment, like the ability to really listen, be quite emotive and nurture others’ strengths."
Another quality they all have in common, as our columnist Helen Edwards points out, is courage. Not yet blunted by big life commitments, or career highs and lows, they bring "daring, chutzpah and fearlessness". Wise managers will ensure that a little of that rubs off on the rest of the team, she advises.
In the race to be modern, we made ambition about shoulder pads and the people we wish we didn’t work with. We made it ugly
Be less stupid
But fear not, those of you who are 30-plus, aged, non-millennials. These qualities need not be the preserve of youth (what’s youth anyway these days?). For Nils Leonard, chairman of agency Grey and curator of our Creativity section in the magazine, ambition needs to be reclaimed by all of us: "In the race to be modern, we made ambition about shoulder pads and the people we wish we didn’t work with. We made it ugly."
Leaving you with one last thought, futurist and columnist Tracey Follows quotes from sustainable-design guru Ezio Manzini. The question we should all be continually asking is: "How could we live in a less stupid way than the way we are?"
If we can tap into our own daring, restlessness of mind and ambition, we might just figure this one out. The next generation is, most certainly, already on the case.