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5 Steps for building the millennial leadership pipeline

By Rashmi Balakrishna

Robin Sharma quotes that “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It is about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work and you have to inspire team-mates and customers”

 The leadership statistics say, at least 71% of the organizations feel their leaders are not able to drive the organization into the future. Only close to 6% of the organizations feel they can develop good leaders. Most of them see that the leadership pipeline is dry.

In less than 5 years from now, the majority of the corporate population (>50%) would be from the millennial generation. With an entirely different set of challenges and mindset, this generation believes that their leadership development is not as adequate as they expect it to be. Given the impatience and restlessness of this generation, if we do not offer a great career path, it’s highly unlikely that they would stick around in a company for long.

 To develop great leaders, we need to provide them with opportunities where they can learn and hone the skills first hand. Their interests could be varied from being the technology experts to marketing to business development to social causes. It is only beneficial to help them develop self-awareness and encourage to build and develop their leadership abilities.

 While the millennial generation is accused of short attention span, restless and impatient, it is important to note that, they are highly competitive and have a very different perspective to the business.

Their feeling of being entitled to the best things around can directly impact the way value is conceived, developed and delivered to the customers.

To tap into this potential and help them develop their skills, organizations could follow these tips and work on building the next generation of great leaders

  • Spot them early:

The ones who naturally take interest in owning up of a delivery, leading a volunteer project, organizing an event, influencing the peers to take action could be inclined towards developing their leadership skills.

There could be a few who actively pursue the path to leadership by signing up for courses, taking up coaching sessions, following mentors who can help them grow.

Tracking and identifying these potential leadership candidates is essential.

  • Entrepreneurial mindset:

Creating more opportunities for employees to own up a project and lead the pack is always a win-win.

This not only gives employees an opportunity to develop their leadership skills but also to be more engaged. Learning and experimenting should become part of their journey.

There would be a number of useful projects which can either improve a process, find a better alternate or solve a perennial problem.

Infact, it is even better if the employees are encouraged identify opportunities and build solutions. This is how they can develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

  • Enable regular assessments:

Being able to measure anything only helps us to improve and take better decisions in order to succeed.

Regular leadership and skills assessments add a lot of value to both the employee and the evaluator.

Specific targeted Insights like a Score of a 5/10 in influencing and 8/10 in accountability can accurately provide insights into the area of development and suggest the corrective action that is needed if applicable.

An indirect benefit of a skill assessment is, it guides the employee to understand the aspects of the leadership which are valuable to the organization. They can start working in those areas being more self-aware.

  • Encourage Risk taking:

From Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk, if there is one characteristic that is common is, they were not afraid of failure. To-be leaders should be encouraged to take calculated risks and have a plan B.

Success and failure should be treated equally as the focus should be the learning and not the outcome alone. 

  • Find their purpose:

The leaders of today & tomorrow are invariably purpose-driven. If you are not able to help them find their purpose, the chances are they would not stay for long.

Leadership is a very critical skill as it forms the skeleton of the organization. To develop and nurture future leaders, you need to understand what keeps the employees motivated.

An opportunity to realize their sense of purpose, encouraging entrepreneurial mindset and a collaborative environment will be the key to nurture and grow millennial leaders

Statistical References – Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 State of Leadership Development Study.