Like the desire to buck tradition, some millennial qualities can be a double-edged sword. Experts often point out the generation's intense collaborative impulse, born out of years of team projects at school. That's good for building consensus and communities, they say, but can be an obstacle to leadership, which often requires making a quick, firm decision on one's own.
It's no secret where the impulses attributed to generation Y come from. And that includes the confidence and the refusal to settle for anything less than their dreams that create not only millennial entrepreneurs but activists and politicians, too. "They didn't just hatch from pods like this," Orrell says. "People wonder why they got this generation that's kind of saying, 'Well, yeah, we are special.' It's because everyone's been telling them that."
The bigger question is whether millennials can leverage their qualities and become effective leaders. If the young leaders emerging in the civic and corporate worlds alike prove anything, though, it's that their elders shouldn't be worrying. Millennials may work differently from previous generations; they may advocate for different causes; they may even expect respect earlier. But they want to improve the world around them, and, experts say, they have the confidence, and many of the tools, that are needed to do so.