THE BLOG
07/17/2013 05:56 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Are Millennials Ready to Be Thought Leaders?

Millennial workers are associated with so many negative characteristics. They're said to be lazy, disrespectful, too entitled, and immature. These qualities may or may not be true for members of this generation, but like it or not, millennials are going to make up 36 percent of the workforce by next year. By 2020, they will make up nearly half of workers in the U.S.

As they take over, it raises the question: Are millennials ready to be thought leaders?

A thought leader, as defined by Forbes, is an individual that "prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries, and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in being the go-to individual for said expertise."

So, can millennials be the foremost authority on anything? I mean, if they're so lazy and immature?

First of all, plenty of studies have been conducted to combat the myths about millennials' work ethic. In reality, millennials get the job done, they value their time, and they give respect when it is earned. (Full disclosure: I'm a millennial, although an older one.)

The next piece of the puzzle is the area of specialization. Many millennials still haven't made it to the workforce yet, so how can they be the go-to expert?

They grew up during the advent of social media. In fact, 75 percent of millennials use social networking sites, compared to only 30 percent of boomers. While simply having social media profiles does not qualify a person to be an expert on the subject, it does give them an advantage in the area. For those who channel their strengths into knowledge of social media, it comes pretty easily. Millennials make for perfect social media experts.

They adapt quickly to new technology. Understanding new technology is second nature to millennials. From computers to mobile phones to the latest innovation, tech-savvy millennials simply absorb the changes. According to a new study, the young teens who make up the second wave of millennials are more tech-savvy than the those already in the workforce. Millennials who are fluent in technology are easy to trust as experts on the subject.

They're creative. Creativity is essential for thought leaders, and 62 percent of millennials define themselves as innovative people. If they truly are as innovative as they think they are, millennials can channel it into creating something new to be the expert on. Innovators have every right to be the expert in their own concept or brand of technology.

To be a true thought leader, according to this Huffington Post blog post, one must: share opinions, anticipate trends, influence thinking, have manifestos, lead movements, are controversial, take both sides, coin a term, or announce a vision.

Based on their knowledge of social media, technology, and future innovations, it is clear Millennials can accomplish these feats. They anticipate trends and influence the way employers run their businesses. Many millennials will drive the future of how companies are social and tech-savvy, they're the extra push and have the inspiration/motivation to make it happen.

So, can millennials be thought leaders? Of course they can!