From the floor of #SAPPHIRENOW, the Future of Work track brought us a collection of insights that enriched our generational intelligence.

Millennials:  Our future is in your hands – not only because elder generations are leaving the workforce, but also because you have the strength in number and conviction to lead us to where we need to be. Here are some thoughts from some of the great thought leaders of the week.

Challenge convention in the way we work, lead and organize

Don’t take “no” for an answer. We all want to have more fun at work every day. We all want an opportunity to do our best work. We all want to feel attached to a higher mission or purpose. Gallup has told us we are united on these across the generations, but it falls to you to overcome organizational inertia and create the future of work. If you’d like a roadmap, @jacobm provided one here.

Cultivate intellectual curiosity, and embrace lifelong learning

The opening keynote gave us three examples of fearless young leaders who personify intellectual curiosity. The world is changing fundamentally and rapidly, and this will continue – you have to keep learning to keep up, and to stay relevant. As @Captsully pointed out, most of us can’t get through an entire professional lifetime with only one skillset.

Stay vigilant – complacency can kill you (literally)

We learned this week from @Captsully that you need to stay on your toes, because you never know on which 208 seconds your entire career will be judged. Had he not been constantly preparing for so many years, the fate of US Airways Flight 1549 would have been very different. “Strive for excellence” he said, “because just good enough, isn’t.”

Avoid generational stereotypes

We’re different, as @jacobm very effectively portrayed here: “Are you ready for Josh?”  and @stephenthunt discussed during his session.

But we’re not THAT different. Dr. Hunt told us that the fundamentals about people and how we’re wired haven’t changed that much – people don’t evolve that quickly. We need to lose the generational myths and negative stereotypes.  For example, talented individuals in their 50’s and 60’s are just as valuable as top talent in their 20’s and 30’s, if not more so. And with the shortage of skilled talent, you will need to keep those older workers on your teams engaged and productive.

Let’s use our similarities to bridge the differences.

In conclusion:  we need you to lead

You have the floor. We are listening, and we are prepared to follow your lead. In fact, we NEED you to lead. With older generations leaving the workforce, and a population gap in most developed economies, there are not enough mid-career professionals to fill the leadership gap left by the retiring Baby Boomers and Traditionalists. You’ll need to step into leadership roles earlier and younger than prior generations, and provide a new, more modern, style of leadership.

Fortunately, thanks to our new era of social sharing and global digital visibility, you can find many great role models around the world, including many of the presenters at SAPPHIRE NOW 2014.

Good luck!  Let us know how we can help you.

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