Are you leading a team of Millennials? Four ways you can rewire yourself to lead effectively.

Millennials is the buzz words today, at least everywhere that I go all I hear about is how Gen X and Baby boomers just can’t seem to grasp what a Millennial is.

So, before I even embark on this crucial journey of unlearning, especially when you have to lead a team of Millennials. Let us first understand the term “Millennial”.

“Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X.

The term Millennials is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another, however. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, are often credited with coining the term. Howe and Strauss define the Millennial cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004. According to Iconoclast, a consumer research firm, the first Millennials were born in 1978.”


There are certain generalizations about Millennials, although like all generalizations there are always exceptions to the rule based on their demographics, culture, gender and upbringing. So, here goes…

1.   Millennials have grown up in world full of electronics and a strong social media presence.

2.   This is a generation that has received the most marketing attention.

3.   Due to all the exposure they get from such a young age, Millennials tend to be a lot more confident than their predecessors Gen X, however, often this confidence tends to spill over into a sense of strong entitlement.

4.   Millennials can no more be lured by the carrot and stick approach, monetary benefit is not motivation enough, and a strong work-life balance is a non-negotiable.

5.   Millennials tend to have different life goals than their predecessors, who focused on job security, buying a home, saving for a rainy day.

Now, let us say you have an opportunity to lead a team of Millennials, you are obviously excited and at the same time flummoxed. You are asking yourself these critical questions that can make or break your relationship with the team.

“How will they relate to me?”

“How will I relate to them?”

“Are we going to fall prey to ageism?”

“What motivates them?”

“How can I make my team respect me?”

In this article, I may not be able to answer all the questions, but I can definitely throw light on things that we need to change to be able to lead the Millennials, especially the ones in the demographic between the ages of 24 to 32.

1.   Learn to say “No”…

…Now more than ever, because with a Millennial just being their boss, their manager, does not automatically entitle you to their respect. You have got to earn it. And one way of earning their respect is by learning to say “No” to your manager or client, especially when you see that your team is stretched in terms of bandwidth.

During my fifteen years of taking behavioral and leadership training programs, across industries I often come across managers who find it extremely difficult to say “No” to their superiors. Instead they expect their teams to work weekends, work over time or to work from home and complete the deliverables.

Know this, that your team of Millennials will deeply resent this, especially if such projects are not an exception anymore, but the rule.

2.   Learn to take a “No”…

…Because no more does the term “Boss is always right” holds true. Recently, in an Assertiveness workshop a young lady spoke of an incident with her manager, a new manager. She had requested for a month long annual leave, she had accumulated leaves all year long and planned a holiday abroad during the lean period in their BU. She had even prepared a back up for the time she would be gone.

Her manager insisted that she take 15 days now and 15 days two months later. The reason was simple, how could he give her a month long leave in one stretch?

I urge you to analyze his reason, it was not that work would get impacted, neither was it a policy related concern. It was how can he, being her manager, allow a month long leave? Even though she deserved it.

Well, being the Millennial that she is, she skipped a level and went directly to her super boss, who seemed to have no issues with her taking a month long leave.

So, she did take her leave, however, her manager was not mature enough to look at this as a learning experience. He took this incident as a slight and went on to be distant and rude for the next six months. As a result, she brought this incident up at a skip level meeting and his behavior thereafter. In her meeting she made it plenty clear that she couldn’t wait to join another team.

All this because the manager’s ego could not take a “No” from his reportee.

3.   Arm yourself with information…

…I may have mentioned this right in the end; however, this is the cardinal learning for leading a team of Millennials. Respect is earned when you can assure your team that you are aware of the project priorities and have complete visibility.

As I write this, I have just finished a TNA (Training Needs Analysis) with a team of Millennials. As a part of the TNA, I was to observe one of their project update meetings, which was being conducted by their Manager. Beautifully done meeting, with ‘post its’ that said “Things going good – Delivered most of the committed stories”. And one of her team members couldn’t help but ask, “What is most? Does ‘most’ have a number?”

And the manager responded, typically, “How does that matter?” Which ensued an argument between the two justifying their points.

To be honest, I was glad she asked that question; because as a manager to Millennials, you have to expect questions, in fact expect to be bombarded by questions. And your armor would be knowledge. Focus on data, on numbers, make performance quantifiable, because only numbers are black and white.

And that is why “Manager” leading a team of Millennials, you need to learn to ask questions, not just to your team, but to your managers as well. Get complete information, be armed with data, and use your knowledge as a weapon to earn respect and your ability to respect a “No” as path to building better relationships.

4.   Invest time in your team…

…Learn to communicate, identify individual aspirations and align them with the company’s priorities, as much as possible. I am reminded of early in my career when a Millennial joined our team. She had finished her management degree from a highly reputed B-School and all our eyes were alight on her to bring in a wave of innovation into our team. However, in the first month post joining, she brought no process or policy changes, instead she asked anyone and everyone who would listen to her, what her prospects of growth in that company were? Now you need to understand that we were a support function, and lived under the common myth that growth is slow in “Support” since we are not revenue generating citizens of the company.

After weeks of asking around the block, her manager (my manager) finally got a whiff of her query and decided to meet the entire team and explain the growth process in our function and what can each of us do to move forward. Believe me, there were things I was completely oblivious to about my career path, until I attended that meeting.

Your team of Millennials also have such questions burning through their heads, and the best ways to quell the curiosity is to communicate, talk regularly, and understand aspirations, goals and priorities.

So, to recap, four ways you can rewire yourself to successfully lead a team of Millennials,

Learn to say “No”,

Learn to take a “No”

Arm yourself with knowledge

Invest time in your team


Strategy for Startups – An Upcoming and Insightful Mentoring Session

Is your product compelling enough to solve a real problem ?
Do you have enough users who care about what you have to offer ?
What problem are you solving for today’s users of your product
What in your product is truly differentiated in the market to solve this problem. Does it solve deep issues for your potential customers ?

– How is it different from what is already existing in the market ?

If one or more of these are part of what you are asking yourself OR you are looking for clarity, then join us
March 18th to triggert thought and have an insightful interactive discussion with one of our mentors Rakesh Mishra, Co- Founder and Director of Excubator

Rakesh MIshra.jpg

Rakesh Mishra, Co-FOunder, Excubator



Rakesh Mishra is Co-Founder & Director at, an organisation that assists entrepreneurs and enterprises to multiply their business value and build world-class businesses. His area of specialisation are incubating advance technology based businesses, innovation portfolio management, technology research and delivery scale-up. Rakesh is also the co-founder of the PAN IIT nation building program ‘IIT Mentors’. He has been engaging with various IIT institutions and IIT alumni community as part of this program to develop the mentoring hubs across the country.

Rakesh brings 20+ years of industry experience that cuts across wide spectrum of industry verticals, technology platforms and geographies.
Rakesh is heading the HackSpace (AI-ML-IoT incubator) program at Excubator. He works very closely with Technology focused MNCs to help them evaluate and engage with innovative startups. Rakesh is advisor to SIDBI for their startup ecosystem development program and also leads platform initiative to collaborate with various central and state government bodies and industry bodies.

As a professional coach, Rakesh has touched lives many senior executives for assisting them with their personal development, job satisfaction challenges and corporate-to-startup transition readiness. Rakesh is recognized as one of the top Gamification experts in India. Rakesh is a graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

We are very happy to have Rakesh lead this discussion on March 18th, and open it up to you all to engage.

See you

To know more about what we do check us out on facebook:

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #startegyforstartups





There’s a massive sea of change unfolding for many many women over the last few decades

A few decades earlier in countries that have high Western influences in them, and more recently in countries like ours.
I interact / collaborate / coach / learn from a lot of women and the need / search to make a mark or identify is high. This is not to say women want to compete with each other or with men.
I interact / collaborate / coach / learn from a lot of women and the need / search to make a mark or identify is high. This is not to say women want to compete with each other or with men. Competition with the outer world may not be the focus. But more about women really coming into their own, for themselves.
For some women it might continue well past them becoming mothers; transitioning from a role in Corporate India to opting to either resume or becoming entrepreneurs in micro / small sized businesses.
The initial phase of transition / exploration with her identity, can be daunting for many.
What will happen to the family ?
Are the kids going to suffer due to neglect from me as a mother ?
How do I catch up with the world ? ( bevause there have been massive changes since she took a break )
Will my family support me ?
What do I do if they don’t ?
I need seed capital.
What if I fail ?
Will my idea be rejected ?
Will I face rejection ?
If I do fail, what happens next ?
Also with this growing need to explore and discover, many are afraid to be seen as feminine. Like ‘being feminine’ is weak or flighty, or lacking strength.
Femininity wields tons of strength harnessed over years and years of experience with life. After all experiences teach all of us, regardless of gender. It’s upto us to ask – ‘What did I learn from this ?’
What are your thoughts on discovering more about yourself ?
About how gracefully embracing femininity can be a constant source of strength in your decision making and taking action ?
How can each of us engage, to support this change, that in many many subtle and more obvious ways, is having an impact on the family structure and function, on ways we all collaborate at work, on the economy and relationships at large ?

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #womeninleadership #womenentrepreneurs

Owning It – It really is More Than a Title

Should leaders ( everyone is a leader in their own right. Anything we are responsible for, turns out, it becomes ours to own, ours to deliver and ours to also learn from ) be OK NOT KNOWING ?

I mean, we are living in a day and age where fundamentals in business and / or even in a corporate setting can make our lives easier if we equipped ourselves with ‘knowing the HOW TO…’

Whenever I hear folks say – I don’t know and walk away, to me that tells me
– This thing you’re doing? It just isn’t THAT important to you
– You wanna pass the buck on
– You think you’re ABOVE it ( Heaven knows how – pun intended )

And then we whine, complain and shout from the rooftops about how ‘ Noone’s helping me’.

Are you serious???

If this ‘thing’ really really matters enough
– You WILL make it happen
– You will learn
– You will not be ashamed to say , ‘ I DON’T KNOW’
– You will push yourself out there to get the job done

Some of you reading this might think this sounds pretty dictatorial. It’s cool. i’ve really been labelled worse…

But, palming off a job, procrastination and just plain ol’ shoddy work is just unimpressive.

I think as entrepreneurs, we are responsible 24/7.

Because its ours.
Because we wanted it bad enough to get it off the ground.
And because we owe it to ourselves to finish what we started.



The author, Caroline Fernandes, is an Educationist and Social Entrepreneur

twitter: Carolinevibha

Caroline Fernandes

Seriously, Intelligence is Over-Rated.

I used to wonder where the point of getting good to great would happen.

I mean, how do you know when you’re getting really really good at what you’re doing?

Simple. You’ll find people, a steadily growing number of them actually, will want to meet you. Not because you’re known or something, and yeah, that happens to happen anyway, but because what you do is getting the results people want.


So, we are seeing a lot of tense hesitation with women when they transition between where they are, to where they need to be. The Real versus the Ideal states.

We find that all this is to a very large extent, a state of mind.

Through our interviews, discussions, coaching and events, more and more we are realizing women do not take the step into the unknown, simply because it’s the unknown.

Sure, you’re probably thinking how is this different from the way men think, correct?

Correct. To look at it from the surface it is human nature to resist change and resist it we will. Excuses, delays, avoidance and denial flood our minds and stop us dead in our tracks, sometimes self-indulgence in opting to be mentally paralyzed too.

But, studies have shown that when it comes t0 us women, these challenges tend to take on a slightly if not grossly skewed shape. We have a gender based lens that enables us to perceive events that lead us to go into self- deprecation. We bring ourselves down, and filter situations from this world view.

In due course this takes us into a loop which stops us from progressing to getting to that ‘ really really good space’ aka, becoming experts at what we do.

Some of of the basics that can incrementally lead to disengaging this thought process are:

  1. Developing a clear Leadership Vision
  2. Self- Confidence Building
  3. Understanding what Success Means to us
  4. Networking
  5. Influencing and negotiating
  6. Others

We invite yoou to take notice of the fact that core skills around what you do have consciously not been mentioned here, as we consider that a given for success.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we at #VibhaWomen plan on addressing these facets via our workshops that will work in tandem with more sharing of thoughts and experiences that you can read here as well.


Join us either at our workshops or read more about this here shortly.

We also invite you to share your own thoughts around this.

More to follow, see ya soon.


The author is an Educationist, Social Entrepreneur and Coach

Twitter: #CarolineVibha

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #carolinecaresfernandes

Caroline Cares Fernandes

Collaboration at home can enhance the way empowerment is broached at work and more importantly at home – it starts with the family, not the woman

A mother of three, three girls might I add, Selvi and her husband hail from a city slum in Bangalore. Working hard to put her children through ‘good schools’ as she calls them, she wants her three girls to have the ability to get well-payingselvi

jobs that will fetch them the badly needed independence she has not seen her mother have nor herself for a very long time.

Growing up with a single mother wasn’t easy. Her past morphs her understanding of family roles,  but does not stop her from dreaming tall for her off-spring. Fortunately she has a husband who is supportive and helps in sharing house responsibilities in between the three jobs he has kept for the last decade. With a few loans and a life of living paycheck to paycheck, all three of their kids are fluent in English. She wants them to earn for themselves as a priority to fulfilling the life she never lived.

She works half days, everyday to be able to balance work, children, keep home and have some time everyday for long walks.

Her neighbor, Mary is not as fortunate. She is acclimatized to living in an abusive home. With an alcoholic husband she restricts her location of work within the confines of the slum.

This concept is universal. It exists beyond age and socio-economic status too.

Speaking to many women from varied backgrounds in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, women have great ideas. Sometimes a nudge in the right direction is what is needed for them to take the next step and act. Let’s face it, it helps to know your spouse or partner offers you the necessary hand to focus on your enterprise.

For a lot of women, especially in a country like ours, India, they continue to live with their in-laws too. Decisions, discussions and perspectives are deeply impacted via the status quo.

We aren’t talking about this openly, but we need to. Some women opt to open business but lack the necessary work- life balance they could badly do with to strategically make time to add value to their business as well as their kids without the guilt that comes with work.

There’s a growing need to improve engagement and understanding at home- with your spouse, and significant others. Speaking freely and openly, sharing responsibilities, educating children on their own contributions towards family chores ( yes, a lot of women take on way too much at home. Role sharing isn’t such a bad thing). If she has to cook, keep house, take care of children, their homework and then work too, she is drained, Chances are so will her desire to work.

How does a women get out there and feel confident if she’s not getting the support and time she needs to plan, execute and more?

More and more of us women must come together to work out how family involvement can be increased, open up the levels of communication.

Those networking sessions you attend? Bring your spouse along too. Share your passion and thoughts together. Call me crazy, but transformation has to be collaborative not delegative especially at home. You can’t expect to focus and deliver if you’re not at peace personally. You can’t delegate work to your spouse. Work has to be shared responsibly and maturely.

In #SherylSandberg’s words,’ Anyone who wants her mate to be a true partner must treat him as an equal and an equally capable partner.’

We have a long way to go, but we must get a move on. One family at a time,collaborating for a better more wholesome approach towards empowering not just the woman, but the family!

The author is a Social Entrepreneur & Learner

Caroline Cares Fernandes

twitter: Caroline Vibha

Business Women’s Day : Celebrating You, dear Ladies!

I think it makes sense to have a day when women the world over can take stock our contribution towards the world of  business and the growing strength of women in numbers.

You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to celebrate this day. Leadership in any sphere of business – yours or an organization entitles you to this day!

There have been 2 women whom I would like to bring to mind while I reflect on the great things we as women have and how we contribute to the larger world of business.

These women are #SherylSandberg and #KiranMazumdarShaw

#LeanIn awakened something in me. It made me realize things I already knew sub-consciously but spoke to me about quite explicitly. Some were powerfully engaging, others just powerful. I’ve watched a few of Sheryl’s videos too. Through her communication everything seems to connect to an enduring thread of #grit, #persistence and #authenticity.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., listens during the e-G8 Internet Forum in Paris, France, on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The Internet needs government involvement to reach its full potential of linking people and boosting economic growth, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., listens during the e-G8 Internet Forum in Paris, France, on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The Internet needs government involvement to reach its full potential of linking people and boosting economic growth, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg via Getty Images

I’ve had my awakening quite early on myself. Through times when I fell and lost I seem to have learned the most. It’s helped me become more focused on the things I want and also on the things I don’t want.

I have to say that with everything Sheryl has been through recently, her determination and will to keep moving forward is commendable.  She chose to share her world, to the world. it takes a lot to open yourself to the world, share your story. The great part is,it’s a give-and-take – the moment you open yourselfup – the world comes rushing!

I want to also talk about another role model, #KiranMazumdarShaw. You know, reading about someone’s story to us, becomes just that – a story. but if you really sit to think about the way someone like Kiran went through her start. It was a gradual steady progression that led to where she is today. And from the looks of it, there’s no stopping this woman.

She’s had to take a lot of ‘NOs’ in her life before things 10biocon1

began to turn around. To me, that has to have a greater ‘yes’ somewhere deep inside that keeps you going in the face of rejection and doubt.

We all struggle. At times we also question our choices, but I think having this unquestionable faith in your vision and yourself is what encourages continuity. The great thing is persistence in turn gives you the growing strength you need to carry on.

Yes, it’s tough. yes, there will be times you will want to throw in the towel and call it a day. But hang in there. The times that are hardest are the ones where your best ideas and growth will emerge. Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground.

Happy ‘Business Women’s Day’ Ladies!

The author, Caroline Fernandes is a social entrepreneur and learner Caroline Fernandes

You can connect with her on twitter: @CarolineVibha