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The Holistic Approach

How to Become a More Holistic, Gift-Centered Leader 

by Susan Inouye 

How do leaders stay ahead of the curveinnovate the next best thing when what’s new today is outdated tomorrow and when young workers reject established rules? Great leaders know they can’t navigate this storm alone.  Their secret? Harness the natural gifts of their people so they have the leadership capabilities once only required of senior management.  Millennials who’ll make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025 are poised to take on this challenge provided they can bring their whole self to work and use their gifts to do meaningful work. In my business, I’ve discovered when leaders make the “LeaderShifts” towards a more holistic and gift-centered way of leading, everyone wins. Turns out we all want what millennials want. They’re just empowered to demand it and that’s healthy for us all. 

Here’s how to make the LeaderShift 

From Control to “Connect and Receive” 

Amy Hirsch Robinson, a leading expert on generations wrote “28% of Millennials report quitting a job because they didn’t feel connected to the organization.” By connection mean “how I feel when I’m with youConnection begins with “quieting your mind” so you’re present to notice and feel what people mean beyond their words or silence. Learning to receive starts with openly and humbly receiving people’s words, ideas, praise, criticism or help which in turn empowers and validates them, inspiring them to bring their best self to the job.  

From Conformity to “See and Accept” 

One size does not fit all is a strong belief of millennials. They grew up exposed to cultural diversity in a global society. They want to be seen and accepted as unique individuals, not as part of a homogeneous, lock-step mass. When you see and accept people for who they are, they do the same; a different conversation unfolds; instead of lecturing each other, you listen and learn from each other. By observing, you can get curious. Curiosity replaces right/wrong judgment. Through this filter you can see your people’s gifts even in bad behavior.   

From Expectations to “Intentions” 

Expectations are external rules for how things should be done, how others should behave. “I expect if I give you training, you’ll be able to do your job.” Intentions are internal decisions about how you will approach situations and people, how you will behave. “I intend to support you in being the best in your job by giving you training.” Expectations are passive; intentions are proactive. Expectations create pain when they’re not met; intentions create possibilities. By setting expectations for your people, especially millennialsyou’ve set yourself up for disappointment. Instead, if you intend to support them in reaching their goals, you open a conversation where they can contribute their ideas and new opportunities unfold. 

From Authority to “Authenticity 

Millennials are the first generation that didn’t have to go through authority to get information. This is why they have a new paradigm regarding authority. Able to access information without any gatekeepers, they can learn and even act on their own. When it comes to new ways of doing things, young people often know more than their elders. Millennials don’t respect someone just because they have a title. They value authentic knowledge, experience, and wisdom from which they can learn. Wanting to be coached (not lectured or talked down to), they’ll seek out, attach themselves to, and respect people they perceive as the real thing. 

From Bottom-Line Myopia to “Belonging.”  

Millennials value contributing to their communities, as evidenced through high levels of participation in 

charitable activities. Their desire to belong results in strong connections to friends and family. You can ignite that same sense of loyalty by helping your people discover their vision for their life and align it with the purpose or mission of the organization. When employees feel engaged and motivated because their life’s purpose is being fulfilled, the bottom line takes care of itself. 

By making the LeaderShifts, you’ll inspire your people to create a culture where every generation feels heard for their ideas, is motivated to use their gifts to achieve desired results and feels a deep sense of belonging. In becoming a more holistic, gift-centered leaderopportunities will unfold that you never envisioned possible. 


As a recognized expert in working with millennials, Susan Inouye has helped leaders in over 600 companies in 40 industries—from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies— to increase productivity levels by engaging and motivating this generation of unique talents. An expert in executive coaching, leadership development, and organizational change, she is the bestselling author of Leadership’s Perfect Storm: What Millennials Are Teaching Us About Possibilities, Passion and Purpose.  



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