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Do Millennials Want To Lead?

Millenials Train Tracks

There has been no shortage of copy written over the past few years about millennials, with various claims about their desire for meaningful work or their aptitude with technology. But what about their leadership capabilities?

See Also: Survey Reveals That Millennials Want to Lead

A recent survey published by WorkplaceTrends.com found that leadership is not high on the agenda of millennials. The survey studied 1,000 HR professionals together with 1,000 employees of various ages quizzed on their career development.

The results revealed that there is a general lack of leadership in the modern workforce. Nearly half of all companies surveyed listed leadership as the most challenging skill to find in new recruits.

What’s more, the results showed that this wasn’t simply a case of applicants not having the qualifications. There was a general lack of desire to hold leadership positions, with just 12 percent of respondents revealing they had a desire to reach board level positions.

The researchers suggest that a big part of the problem is a significant change in both culture and technology.

“This goes back to the various rights revolutions of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” they say. “The anti-authority mentality that was triggered during that time has never really fully gone away.”

While people may still aspire to lead, the whole model has changed. This has thrown into question what it means to lead an organisation in the first place, with big questions on how best to do so also muddying the waters.

The Value of Career Progression

For millennials, many are beginning to think again about whether they want to climb the corporate ladder. Of the 12 percent who revealed leadership aspirations in the survey, just 29 percent of those were millennials, compared to 54 percent from generation X.

“I don’t think millennials are less ambitious, though that may be what the data indicates,” the researchers say. “I think they just feel that they don’t want to stay in the company for a long time. Their focus is on learning and development so that they can have a wide range of experience.”

So how can leadership ability be cultivated among millennials? The researchers suggest that the work environment needs to change so that leadership is something that is an ongoing process rather than a formal path.

“When an employee comes to a company, there needs to be a conversation about ‘In the next 2 years, you’ll have a tour of duty. You’ll benefit because we’ll grow XYZ job skills, and the company will benefit. And in 2 years, we’ll have a discussion of your next tour of duty,’” they say.

In addition to helping develop young leaders, the authors also believe that this environment will prove much more effective in retaining the talented millennial employees the organisation has.

The report also highlights the need to change how leadership development programs operate, with millennials regarding leadership as more a case of mastering their current position than anything elitist and hierarchical.

See Also: How to Lead When Employees Don’t Want to Follow

Many of the reports, articles and studies of millennials suggest they have some very different aspirations from the world of work. This exploration into leadership certainly supports that. Is the workplace ready?


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