Millennials are “interested in each other’s opinions,” said Billie Jean King, accomplished tennis professional and founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. “No matter how long they’ve worked at a company, everybody has an opinion and ideas. And you never know where a great idea is going to come from. That’s why it’s really important to stay alert and listen to everyone.”
This social collaboration between different generations is a crowdsourcing tool, which King said millennials understand well because they grew up with technology and social media. Christie Smith, managing principal at Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion said this ability has made this younger generation inherently more inquisitive, a team of natural-born researchers who look at issues multidimensionally.
King has even seen younger tennis players use crowdsourcing through technology and social media. When a team tennis group was asked how they can improve the game, the players got on their phones to seek out information from friends and other outside sources. This can be used in companies as well, she said.
D. Sangeeta, chief diversity officer at Nielsen, said that a collaborative environment can play a critical part in a company’s success. At her company, if brainstorming sessions are always made up of the same people each time, there’s only incremental change. On the other hand, in brainstorming sessions with participants from a variety of backgrounds — including no background on the subject discussed — genders, degrees and ethnicities, the outcomes are often quite different.
“The more different your ideas are, it makes the company stronger,” she said. “You are more innovative. If you’re more innovative, you help us grow. If you help us grow, you strengthen the company.”