Posts Tagged ‘passive-agressiveness’

Peter Pan Syndrome - Millennials

Coaching millennials and breaking the Peter Pan syndrome and perpetual adolescence that helicopter parenting and snowplow parenting has created and embedded in Gen Y is a process. A long process that is not for the faint of heart, the impatient, or the unmerciful.

Courage, patience, and mercy are traits of people who are striving to be quintessential leaders. Millennials will test these – not even consciously, because everything they believe is so deeply indoctrinated and entrenched in them that they don’t see anything wrong about their behavior, their attitudes, and their lives – at every turn in every way until something has to give or break.

Millennials are fragile. They’ve been, in almost a cult-like way, conditioned to believe they’re special, they’re awesome, they’re talented, they’re gifted, and they’re owed everything. Because no limits have ever been place on them and they’ve been awarded and praised just for existing, Millennials live in a bubble of delusion about themselves and about the world around them.

As quintessential leaders, our responsibility is to break that bubble without destroying the person inside it. And that is a challenging task and it’s going to cause pain on both sides of the bubble.

Imagine being blind from birth and creating your world simply by the sounds and the smells and the textures and the words your read with your fingers around you. It’s not going to be the same world that someone who is not blind sees or lives in.

Then one day, you wake up and you’re not blind anymore and you can see the world in another dimension you didn’t have before.

If it were me, my gut reaction would probably be to go back to being blind, because the world I would have created in my mind would be a safer world, a prettier world, and a more perfect world than the world actually is.

The other reason that my gut reaction would be to go back to being blind would be that once I could see, I’d no longer have anyone looking for me or taking care of me to make I was safe and had everything I needed. And that would be scarier than anything I could imagine because I’ve never been prepared for that and I wouldn’t know what to do.

Millennials have been blind from birth and they’ve created a world in their minds a world that doesn’t exist (and their parents have full culpability in this as well). We, as quintessential leader coaches, have the job of restoring their sight so they can see the reality of the world, life, themselves, and themselves in relationship to other people.

They’re not happy about that. And, frankly, we’re not happy about it either. Because we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum and it takes a long, hard, painful, and, sometimes, breaking-along-the-way, journey to meet in the middle.

One of the things that’s important for us as quintessential leader coaches to remember is that this bubble, this blindness is all Millennials have ever known. For 20, 25, 30, 35 years. That’s a long time and it is going to take time to make any kind of dent and progress in getting them where they need to be.

Having said that, as quintessential leader coaches, we have to be committed to the process and to doing the hard stuff and giving them tough love every step of the way.

Millennials will get angry or upset at every little perceived hurt or slight, but they won’t say anything to us. Instead, they’ll run back and complain to their helicopter and their snowplow parents with tears (and I’m talking about 25-30-year-old males and females) about how their feelings are hurt. Be prepared for the phone call berating you for hurting their “little, precious child,” for not understanding, and then a litany of all the wonderful things about their children that you don’t know or see.

If you think I’m kidding, then you’ve been hiding under a rock. it happens. A lot.

So in the process of coaching the Millennials, you now have be a quintessential leader coach to the parents, a task you didn’t bargain for because you didn’t hire the parents or invite the parents into the relationships with the Millennials.

Firm assertion in a polite way is the first step in coaching helicopter and snowplow parents. They’re not your employees and they weren’t invited into the relationship, and, it’s really none of their business are the three things you have to diplomatically tell them.

Tell them you won’t speak with them about your relationship with their children again. Here’s the easiest way to get this across in a way that makes sense: ask them if (a) they would have asked their parents to do this for them on the job and, (b) if they would have wanted their parents to do this for them on the job.

You know what the answer is going to be, followed by “but…,” of course, but it’s a way to get the message across to the parents that they’re not welcome to be involved in something that doesn’t have anything to do with them.

Next, you have to confront the Millennials with what their upset about. This rattles them and usually you get all the body language of anger and defensiveness, but they have no skills to fight the battles themselves.

Keep at it. They’re going to break a little a little at a time, over and over, and it’s going to hurt a lot because they’ve been so overprotected, they don’t know what breaking feels like. It’s okay. They’ll heal. Remind them that you’ll help if you need to (and the need has to be something that is literally impossible for them to do, but only after they’ve spent the time exhausting every possibility, option, and idea available to them), but you will not do anything they can and must do for themselves to grow up and you will not, unlike their parents, enable them.

Millennials won’t understand for a long time that you are teaching them resilience, independence, and the ability to think and do for themselves. In fact, you’re teaching them to be accountable, responsible adults, something their parents didn’t do.

No quintessential leadership coach signs up to be a parent to someone else’s child-in-an-adult-body. But that’s exactly the extra responsibility we have when we’re working with Millennials.

We must not fail and we must not quit, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how disheartening it can be at times, and no matter how much resistance we face because we’re the last shot they have at getting it right.

How are we doing?