LEADERSHIP / NOV. 19, 2014
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Survey Reveals That Millennials Want to Lead

There is, generally speaking, an awful lot of pressure and expectation on the millennial generation. A recent international study reveals however, that they are certainly up for the challenge, and ready to take on leadership positions in their organisations. The study, conducted by the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at INSEAD, saw around 16,000 young people from over 40 countries around the world surveyed on their workplace attitudes and beliefs. Whilst the study uncovered some slight regional variances, there were some distinct commonalities across the sample. The most telling of these was the strong desire to adopt leadership roles, with 41% of respondents revealing that this was very important to them in their work. Also of interest was the style of this leadership, with many revealing a strong interest in coaching and mentoring.

This shouldn’t be mistaken for a sign of entitlement, however, with very few respondents revealing a desire to be fast tracked.  Significantly more wanted instead to gradually grow and learn into leadership roles.

As with previous studies, however, the sample also revealed a major desire for strong work/life balance, with most regarding this as significantly more important than higher wages, or indeed higher status in their employer. Indeed, many would rather have no job at all than a job they actively hated.

The findings are particularly crucial with this large cohort entering the workforce en masse at the moment. Better understanding of what makes millennial workers tick will be crucial in getting the most out of them.

What makes a great leader?

So what do millennials regard as a great leader?  In the western world, it was found that the most important trait for millennials was being empowered by their leader.

There was a strong sense that they wanted to be supported heavily in their work, but certainly not bossed around.  This chimes with the desire outlined earlier for a degree of freedom over how they go about their work, with micromanagement certainly not something they craved.

Grooming future leaders

The study goes on to reveal that the best way to groom millennials for future leadership positions is by providing regular full-time leadership opportunities for younger employees, and by allowing them to rotate between different departments within the organisation, and indeed even different roles.

In a global world, it’s also crucial to understand the cultural differences within a workforce, so strong cultural awareness training is a must.  Providing exposure to different geographies within the organisation is therefore incredibly valuable before they’re let loose in senior positions.

The final clear finding from the survey was around salary. Whilst that obviously remains a factor, the survey clearly shows that things such as development opportunities, training schemes and workplace flexibility are also incredibly highly valued. Providing those features of work life therefore are going to be key to keeping millennials engaged and motivated.

See also: Managing Millenials: Leadership Secrets to Building a Happy Workplace

How does your own workplace treat millennial workers? Do they provide the kind of training and development opportunities you value?  Do they give you a pathway to leadership?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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