Why Millennials Will Solve Your Leadership Pipeline Issue

2 min read
Apr 28, 2015

Why Millennials Will Solve Your Leadership Pipeline IssueAre you looking to your millennial talent base for your next leaders? If you’re not, you’re missing out. These employees, born between 1980 and 2000, are the largest generation in the entire U.S. workforce. However, not nearly enough companies are investing the time and energy into bringing millennials, or Gen Y, into leadership positions. That’s a mistake.

Look at the mismatch that Deloitte’s and Virtuali’s findings show:

  • Only 28% of millennials believe their current company is making full use of their skills
  • Only 6% of companies report they have “excellent” programs to develop this generation
  • However, 53% of these young employees aspire to leadership positions in their current organization
  • 95% of them believe it’s important for companies to offer leadership development activities

Companies failing their employees — their millennial workforce is more than willing to put in the time and effort to train and develop their skills to become leaders. We need to be doing much better in supporting their careers, because it’s a win-win situation; offering leadership opportunities will engage them, meaning you’ll have far less turnover.

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What Does Leadership Mean to Gen Y?

Don’t make the mistake of believing that leadership means simply new titles and raises. A company’s hierarchy doesn’t necessarily align perfectly with leadership, meaning that experiences and responsibilities mean far more than empty titles.

The #FOMO, or fear of missing out, culture means that this generation is chasing the next great experience. In fact, according to the Virtuali study, 78% of them say they value experience over possessions. You as a company need to give them those experiences. This means instead of boosting salary, boost their exciting opportunities. They want to build relationships, take on a driving force in innovative projects, and interact with customers or other employee teams, depending on the nature of your business.

What Your Training Needs to Look Like

A few online courses every other month or so isn’t going to cut it. Leadership training for this group needs to be embedded into your cultural values. Specifically, the training should take a two-pronged approach: experience-based and individualized.

Gen Y respondents to the Virtuali study reported that they thought the leadership training was inadequate, and that it placed too much emphasis on e-learning instead of on actual on-the-job experiences. Look back at what these young employees think leadership means and attack training from that perspective. There should be job rotations, shadowing, externships, special job assignments, and helming new projects.

In the modern era, millennials are used to having things tailored to their needs. Leadership training should be the same. Focus on each employee’s strengths and cater to them when assigning projects and job rotations.

The Most Valued Leadership Training for Gen Y

Remember how this generation values experiences? Make these experiences something to write home about — literally. One of the most highly sought-after opportunities for them is the opportunity to work abroad. Global business environments should capitalize on this to engage future leaders of their company.

In the Virtuali study, 87% of millennial respondents reported that the opportunity to work abroad would increase their desire to join a company, 80% would be highly engaged, and 81% said it would make them want to remain at their company. Don’t miss out on this opportunity if it’s available to your company.

This generation is the future of companies. Invest in their leadership training with on-the-job experiences and you’ll win their loyalty.



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