At What Age Are Millennials Ready to Lead?

by Jennifer Miller on August 24, 2015

in Generational, Leadership

 

young business professionals

I’m a sponsored blog partner with Spherion (a staffing and recruiting organization) and am participating in the release of findings from Spherion’s Emerging Workforce® Study (EWS).  All opinions are mine.

When are employees ready to step into leadership roles? Although there is no definitive “right” answer to that question, it’s one that employers increasingly grapple with. The Baby Boomer generation is (slowly) leaving the workforce—and those in charge of filling the leadership pipeline wonder, Will there be enough skilled leaders to replace them? Opinions vary; after all, the Millennial generation (or, “Gen Y”) outnumbers the Boomer population. Organizational hierarchies are flattening so there are less leadership positions available. When you combine these factors, surely there are ample leadership talent to fill the void, right?

Not necessarily, according to the Emerging Workforce Study, sponsored by Spherion. A whopping 75% of employers surveyed in 2015 believe that younger workers lack the “business and life experience required for leadership positions.” Interestingly, this statistic is 11 percentage points above the 2014 response to the same survey question. If this trend accurately reflects the state of leadership development, it’s moving in the wrong direction.

I’m on record as being somewhat skeptical of the notion that “there aren’t enough good leaders out there.” It’s possible that what’s needed is a change in the definition of “leadership.” Still, if three-quarters of human resource executives are seeing a lack of leadership readiness in its younger workforce, clearly something is afoot.

The EWS identified another interesting element to the leadership pipeline issue: 63% of companies have increased their succession planning efforts to address the impending Boomer exodus. This is a good start, but there’s still a gap: roughly 12% of employers see the leadership development gap, but aren’t doing anything about it.

According to this Training Magazine article, the amount of time allotted to developing executives has decreased. That means the talent management group (or HR department) must act more quickly to develop its workforce. Gen Y is often stereotyped as lazy and disinterested in leadership challenges. I see it differently: the Millennial workforce is hungry to participate—they are a generation defined by seeking to make a difference. Millennials simply see “leadership” in a different light. And, news flash: they’re not that young anymore. Depending on whose numbers you use, some of them are almost 35 years old. That’s plenty of “life experience” to get started in a leadership role.

Eventually, all of the Baby Boomers will be out of the workforce. The leadership of your organization will be up to Gen X and Gen Y generation. It’s time for executives and HR leaders to quit wringing their hands about the “lack of leadership” talent and do something (anything!) about it. There are plenty of talented people out there. Let’s work together to get them ready for the task of leading.

 

About the Emerging Workforce Study: For more than 18 years, Spherion has examined the issues and trends impacting employment and the workforce. This year, Spherion’s “Emerging Workforce Study” was conducted between March and April of 2015 by Harris Poll, a Nielsen company. The study polled over 2,000 workers and 225 human resource managers on their opinions and attitudes regarding important workplace topics such as employee engagement, job satisfaction, generational differences and work/life balance. One of the study’s goals was to look for indicators for what the workplace will become. As the perspectives and attitudes of the workforce evolve, employers must better understand employees for greater business success.

You can also follow Spherion on Twitter (hashtag #EWS2014) or join them on Facebook.

Disclosure: Spherion partnered with bloggers (like yours truly) for their Emerging Workforce Study program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. I was free to form my own opinions about the data supplied by Spherion and all opinions are my own. Spherion’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

 

photo credit: istockphoto

{ 0 comments }

Tips for Running a High-Potential Leadership Development Program

August 17, 2015

Back in the day when I worked for a large corporation, there were employees who had been selected for some sort of quasi-secret leadership development program. It was this weird situation in which Suzanne (or Jose, or Robert) was reportedly in “the program” but they couldn’t talk in detail about it with people outside of […]

Read the full article →

3 Ideas for Filling Your Leadership Pipeline

August 13, 2015

An estimated 85% of companies have some sort of formal or informal leadership development process. Yet, a “process” is not enough to ensure that your company has enough experienced leaders to fill your company’s leadership pipeline. I interviewed experts and researched the best practices for developing “high potential” talent – those up-and-coming managers who will someday lead your organization. My insights […]

Read the full article →

Blueprints for Nine Essential Business Meetings

August 10, 2015

Let’s just put it right out there: pretty much everybody loves to hate business meetings. I’m on the record in support of meetings if they’re held for the right reasons and are run effectively. So, count me in the minority of people who think (some) meetings are OK. The problem is, we humans can muck […]

Read the full article →

26 Essays on Leadership Development #LeadChange

August 4, 2015

This month’s Leadership Development Carnival is hosted at The Lead Change Group blog. Curated by Becky Robinson and her Weaving Influence team, you’ll find 26 posts on a wide range of leadership topics, including: – The epidemic risk of inconsistency – Ways to positively influence people at work – Leadership behaviors to move up on […]

Read the full article →

Leadership Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders

August 3, 2015

Are you crystal-clear on your purpose? Jon Mertz is. His purpose is to guide, challenge and inspire people of the Millennial generation to fully realize their leadership potential. Mertz realized this purpose in an unlikely place: a grove of Aspen trees while he was snow-shoeing in the American Rocky Mountain range. At the time of […]

Read the full article →

4 Key Skills Employees Need for the Workplace of the Future

July 27, 2015

I’m a sponsored blog partner with Spherion (a staffing and recruiting organization) and am participating in the release of findings from Spherion’s Emerging Workforce Study.  All opinions are mine. What are the top skills that the employee of the future needs? A recent study commissioned by Spherion and conducted by Harris Poll aimed to find […]

Read the full article →

Lead better meetings with these 16 questions

July 20, 2015

Does leading meetings frustrate you? Maybe you have someone in your meeting who has ideas— lots of them—who can’t seem to shut up. Or perhaps it’s the opposite issue: meeting participants are shutting down good discussion in the interest of “keeping things moving.” If either of the scenarios sounds familiar, then you will want to […]

Read the full article →

Important Questions all Leaders Should Ask of Top Performers

July 16, 2015

How do you keep your top talent from jumping ship? For starters, let them know how much you value them. According to research, something as simple as conducting a “stay interview”—a conversation in which you review an employee’s likes and dislikes about the job—can help significantly reduce turnover of valued staff members. Want to give […]

Read the full article →

The Real Meaning of Engaged Leaders

July 13, 2015

Much of what’s written about “employee engagement” focuses on how to get your employees more involved at work. As a leader at your company, you’re also an employee; how “engaged” are you? And, are you engaged in the right things? Undoubtedly, you’re busy, but is that the same as engagement? According to research by Development […]

Read the full article →