This NFL Team Understands the Power of Adjusting Leadership for Millennials

This NFL Team Understands the Power of Adjusting Leadership for Millennials

The world of professional sports may be the biggest industry facing generational differences. In particular, the National Football League adds eager rookies to rosters each year. These newbies are thrown into teams that already have established cultures, routines, players and coaches. Sometimes they are separated by 2 or more generations.

“I don’t like it at all. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t do it. I don’t use it.” Said San Francisco’s head coach, Jim Tomsula, when asked about his feelings on social media. Based on this statement, what would we say of Tomsula’s leadership for millennials? Fail!

The San Francisco 49ers have an average age of 25.2 years old. Within a month’s time, Coach Tomsula changed his views on social media. He quickly saw how important social media is and why it’s a great tool for connecting with newer players, and offering leadership to millennials.

The NFL Team That Is Solving Millennials, was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. The article discusses different ways that the 49ers have been leading millennials. Some of those ways include:

  • Reverse Mentoring: Now, understanding the importance of social media, Tomsula makes time to learn about new technology and apps that his players use in weekly meetings.
  • Shorter Meetings: Two hour meetings are no longer held. Instead, the team meets for 30 minutes, and the meetings include more visual aids and interaction.
  •  Going Digital: Utilizing technology further, team schedules are no longer printed on paper. The team members receive digital alerts sent directly to their mobile devices.

49ers fans and staff are hesitant when it comes to the changes being made for tech savvy millennials. “Why should we cater to the millennials?” They’re thinking.

It’s not that leaders or employers should cater to millennials; however, there is a need to lead from the current time – 2015. Technology and the Internet have change the workplace forever. It will continue to change, too. Millennials have merely become the poster children of the changes.

Tim Elmore sees a different perspective than Coach Tomsula’s millennial approach with the 49ers. In a related blog post, Elmore suggests that it’s best to “coach as a missionary.” He encourages leaving the comfort zone to become a pioneer. Study and learn a culture’s values first. Stepping into, and learning the ways of, a different culture will help leaders reach more people.

The coaches aren’t the only ones making adjustments. Not too long ago, I had the great pleasure of seeing five-time NFL MVP, Peyton Manning, deliver a keynote address. He spoke about the continuous need to “adapt his leadership to the next generation [of players]” by evaluating his expectations, perspective, and speech. Manning likes Elmore’s missionary approach; first learning, and then earning his right as the millennials’ leader.

John C. Maxwell, world renowned leadership expert and author, taught on stage. He stated that posterity and legacy are achieved only if leaders past the baton. More importantly, Maxwell shared that the baton must be passed at “full speed.” Being spectators on the sidelines, completely out of sync with the technology of today, isn’t the way to approach millennials. It’s best to be in a full sprint, aware of the present times in which we live, work, and play.

Head Coach Tomsula is shifting gears in his leadership, accelerating to a higher speed that’s essential if he wants his 49er millennials to reach new levels.

What are you waiting for? Gear up!

Question: Have you geared up your leadership for millennials? If so, how? If not, why not?


About Ryan Jenkins

Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized speaker and trainer who helps organizations better lead, engage, and market to the Millennials and Generation Z. He shares his top ranked generational insights on his blog and podcast. Grab a free copy of Ryan’s latest book, "6 Millennial Motivators: A Guide to What Motivates Millennials at Work" available here http://ryan-jenkins.com/bookgiveaway

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