Marc Petitpas’ book, The 50 Year-Old Millennial: The Leadership Gap Exposed By The Millennials And How To Close It recently enjoyed best seller status on Amazon. Today Petitpas discusses the concepts in the book, and the journey it took to write it.
Petitpas’ career has taken him from the sales floor to the president’s chair. “With my experience in sales, management, and business leadership, I knew I had value to share with other people,” he says about his motivation for writing his first book. “Great leaders invested in me. All of them had a piece of the progress of my success. I saw their impact on me and other people, and I observed the impact they had on their teams. As I went through my career, I built a process that was transferable to other leaders. I wrote my book so I reach more people. It’s a manifesto and a manual that shows why leadership is important and how I learned that and how to impart a management technique.”
To ensure he got his message across in clearly and understandably, Petitpas engaged journalist Mike Ulmer to create the content. The two men spend hours together, Petitpas explaining the concepts and Ulmer producing those thoughts in words.
The book focuses on what Petitpas calls the leadership gap.
“The leadership gap, as exposed by Millennials, is the misconception that they are impatient, entitled, and not willing to work,” he says. “But what Millennials have done is brought in accountability for strong leadership. Millennials want to know they matter and leaders must help them grow and succeed.
“My father went to work with his lunch bag, did his work, and went home. If he didn’t like it, he lost his job. Millennials, on the other hand, research companies and know what they want. They are educated and selective about who they want to work for and how long they stay. When leaders are not willing to challenge the Millennial, they won’t stay. They will go somewhere else.
“Millennials have exposed a long-existing gap – we don’t teach leaders how to lead, we just promote people who are good at their jobs. To lead other people is a skill set. The gap has always been there; Millennials put pressure on leaders to improve the situation. I’m a fan of leadership that matters, hence the name ‘50-year old millennial.’ I know I’m not a Millennial, but I lead in the way that works for them.”
Petitpas calls the gap itself “negative,” but the opportunity to close the gap “positive.”
“Talent and skills don’t come without good leaders. Attract talent and that will improve leadership and that will improve mental health. The way I explain it like this: you can be a great sales professional, so I promote you to manager. You are not in sales anymore but must teach other people to sell. If you can’t teach or lead and just yell at the sales team, they will show up less and you look bad in front of your customers. Things go downhill because of that leader. It’s not their fault; they needed to be trained to inspire success.”
Another term Petitpas discusses in his book is called servant leadership.
“This means the leader goes first,” he explains. “The leader serves the employee, not the other way around. It doesn’t mean lack of accountability, but if there is a knowledge gap in the employee being successful, the leader closes the gap. The leader supports the employee. The leader takes responsibility for the team before holding anyone else accountable. Most people are willing to do the job. If they are not doing it well, they just need help to change.”
The main takeaway from the book is this, Petitpas says, “I want people to understand there is a gap in leadership behaviour but that is no one’s fault. As a leader, learn the skills. As an employee trust that your leader supports you.”