Millennials are fast approaching the executive ranks. As the largest age group in the workforce, making up 50% of it by 2020, this generation is different than those that came before it. They are digital natives and focus on soft skills like emotional intelligence, diversity, and businesses responsibility for doing social good. Succession planning for millennial leadership development requires a different approach than what worked in the past.
There are gaps between how the retiring boomer generation and millennials see the future of business differently. Per Oxford Economics and SAP, “Millennials leaders are half as likely to acknowledge manager proficiency in a range of areas including facilitating collaboration inside the organization, inspiring and motivating employees, managing employee retention, and using technology to achieve competitive advantage. They are also less likely to say that leadership gives them ample feedback, organizational culture values employee satisfaction, and complexity and bureaucracy is discouraged….The smart strategy is to make room on leadership teams for these rising talents and their more experienced colleagues, and let their combined expertise drive digital transformation.”
Today’s executives focus on business acumen, critical thinking capabilities, and stakeholder management. However, millennials value executives with a leadership approach that includes strong interpersonal skills, transparent communication, and a high degree of emotional intelligence. Soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the business world. In fact, culture fit is the most important element of success for newly hired executives. And culture fit boils down to soft skills including communication, collaboration, decision making, and conflict resolution among other traits.
If today’s executives don’t take these skills into account in their millennial leadership development process, they risk losing talented, skilled leaders who will look elsewhere. Never has the business landscape contained this level of innovation, uncertainty, and risk. Losing out on the best talent of the millennial generation because you’re stuck doing things the way you always have could jeopardize your company’s future.
Millennials are looking forward to stepping into leadership positions. 91% aspire to become leaders, with more than half of them women. So what can you do to develop millennial leaders? First and foremost, you must embrace technology. Find areas where you can automate processes and free up time for higher level work to be done. Technology is changing how we work, and millennials input on where the organization is lacking could be invaluable.
A second element is to reconsider how your organization approaches social programs. They want to positively affect change in the world. Meet with millennials to discuss what you’re currently doing and where they see opportunities. Encouraging them to provide a recommendation with an action plan is an excellent way to demonstrate that you’re aligned with their values while also giving them leadership responsibility.
Finally, take another look at your current employee development program. Tomorrow’s workforce requires new skills, and millennials already understand this. They value lateral thinking, adaptability, and mentorship. Asking questions, listening, and incorporating their feedback will enable you to create stronger leadership development that is meaningful to them and their needs. Providing mentorship, practicing transparency, and embracing diversity initiatives will increase your pool of future executives.
Today’s C-suite can learn a lot from millennials, while also teaching them. If you’re interested in learning more, Sheer Velocity can help. For guidance on your succession planning and millennial leadership development needs, send us a note.